The flexibility of De Soto High School students has been tested this year by the multiple changes to the learning format of their school experience.
After two different hybrid schedules, DHS once again changed its format to that of a full remote learning experience that started Nov. 30.
Whether this change is popular amongst students or not, the number of coronavirus cases in Johnson County is currently higher than ever. According to the Johnson County COVID-19 dashboard, the percentage of positive tests in the county has been steadily growing since October: from just 10 percent to 26 percent as of this week.
These numbers put the county well into the red zone, the most severe of four zones used to determine the spread of virus in the county. This, of course, puts any student attending school at higher risk for contracting the virus, explaining the decision made to move to a full remote model.
Given the circumstances, I understand why the school board made the decision to resume online classes because the numbers indicated that students and their families were now more likely to catch the virus. Unfortunately, with the change from hybrid to remote, I fear for myself and fellow classmates it will be a struggle to adapt to their new learning environment.
This concern comes not only from prior personal experience with the remote model, but conversations with teachers and fellow students as well. The new remote model is in many ways a necessary evil as Johnson County hopes to decrease the percentage of coronavirus cases.
For students who have not yet been enrolled in the remote learning experience, the change will be the toughest. Although the days are not any longer than a regular school day, the time sitting and staring at a computer screen can become draining after a while. Now students being required to do this for five days straight, every week, will become a chore for many students.
Similar to traditional school, the motivated and organized students will be in a much better position to succeed in this model, regardless of whether they have been introduced to it before or not. For many of the less accountable students, it will be a struggle to simply know when they are supposed to be in what class, much less pay attention to the teacher and learn the material on a daily basis.
The struggle to learn for many of these students is stressed by the environment of an online classroom. Through my own observation, many students are much less likely to ask questions or interact with other students in the remote learning environment.
Although teachers at DHS have all worked very hard to give their students the best online learning experience possible, it is difficult for any teacher to create the feel of their physical classroom through a collaborative video stream. For many students, this familiarity with the teacher, their peers and their environment will be lost due to the new model and will ultimately impact their learning.
Self-motivation and time management are two skills that all DHS students will have to work on given the new online model. With the world still recovering from the pandemic, the students at DHS will have to contend with remote schooling for some time until Johnson County successfully recovers.
Link to Johnson County COVID Dashboard