PCS Kids Opt Out of In-Person Instruction


Kira Valles-Knoll, Art Editor

I spoke to some of the students who are staying home this year. Meaning, they’re doing distance learning, all the time. My intention was to get to know how it was suiting them, and why they decided to split from the rest of the school population. Two of the five interviewees said that the main reason that they did not participate in online learning was because they were having difficulty getting transportation to the actual school, and that since there were only going to be about 10 days in school for each student, it wasn’t worth it to set up a carpool, or some other form of transportation.

In fact, “it’s just not worth it” was a common theme with those I interviewed. The limited amount of days because of the different cohorts, the staggered breaks and lunches, the new schedule, all made it hard to adjust to a new version of our school life. With the end of the year coming, and final tests or projects due soon, the added work is also overwhelming for many students. To have to do all of that mostly on their own, since many people are split from their friends who are in different cohorts or have different break times, is stressful.

There were also concerns about safety in school. One ninth grader said that the main reason he didn’t want to go back was that he wasn’t vaccinated yet — at the time of the interview, the CDC had not approved the COVID-19 vaccine for kids 12-15. It’s now somewhat safer for students, as many are getting the vaccine as quickly as possible, but the threat of COVID-19 still looms. For students who live with immunocompromised or older family members, going back to school is oftentimes not an option.

As far as continuing with learning from home, the general consensus among interviewees was that it’s going pretty well, although there are times when it feels like they are forgotten. During discussions in class, labs in science classes, and some activities in the theatre program, online students feel as though they cannot participate. Technical difficulties, especially not being able to hear the people in the room, completely hinder those online from getting an adequate understanding of what exactly is going on. There was one student who said that most of the things he was worried about did not come true, but for most others, they got just about what they expected.

The imbalance of attention from teachers also has to be accounted for. Most students said that there were at least a couple classes in which they felt like they were being left out, or forgotten. Some said that in a few classes, the teacher paid more attention to them than to the students in the class. It depends on the number of people in each group. The main plea of those staying home all the time is just for teachers to remember them; to plan the things that they’re doing each day in class to include them, to make sure that they are giving those at home enough to do without overloading them. If they devoted a little more time to those staying fully online, there may not be such an issue with how these students are learning.

Not everything about continuing to do online learning while everyone else does hybrid is so bad. All of the interviewees said that they did not feel like they would have a hard time readjusting to in-person learning, especially if we are able to go back to school full time. One said he was “equally underprepared” as those in school currently doing hybrid learning. They did say that they feel as though they’re missing out on the social aspect of school, although many were able to have human contact through jobs or sports, which have been going on for a while, and are not so difficult to get to. All of the participants said that they were happy with their decision to stay home and continue their schooling online.

Next year should hopefully be a fresh start for everyone. It is a possibility that we could go back to school full-time, which would reset things — if not completely back to normal, then almost. With the vaccine becoming available, and more research constantly being done to keep us healthy, distance learning will hopefully soon become a thing of the past. Until then, teachers must find a way to incorporate those staying at home, so everyone at PCS can have a fulfilling school experience.