Two weeks ago, the Bellwood-Antis School Board held an emergency meeting to address the rise in positive Coronavirus cases in Blair County and the surrounding area. The board voted in favor of a district-wide, two-week shutdown, taking effect on Tuesday, December 1 and lasting until Friday, December 11.
Students now have an online, virtual experience with their learning taking place in their homes; classes are now live-streamed from the school district via Microsoft Teams, an online, meeting platform. Extracurricular activities, including PIAA sports, have been suspended during this time.
A typical virtual learning day for students consists of students logging in to their classes via their school-issued iPad, and class being carried out as per usual, except there’s one thing missing: the in-person touch. Being stuck behind a screen for many hours of the day may have a negative impact on students as they lose the human interaction with teachers and the school environment; however, having classes in the homes of students reassures the element of safety during the uncertain COVID age.
While some students have chosen to learn virtually since the beginning of the school year, other students, who chose to attend face-to-face traditional learning, are being faced with a new challenge: transitioning from traditional learning to remote learning.
Some students have had no problems with virtual learning, but some are facing obstacles.
”It’s different,” states junior Sean Mallon “the biggest challenge with going online is not being able to be with my teachers and friends, but classes are manageable. I wake up and log in to my classes, and the teachers lay out what we are doing for the day. Then, I complete my assignments and move on to the next class. The workload from school is not overbearing, so completing assignments after school is not a stress. Overall, I would say virtual learning is not as bad as I thought it would be, but I hope that we can return to school soon.”
Senior Preston Wilson said he never imagined his final year at Bellwood-Antis occurring online, though he understands why the adjustments have been made.
“This certainly isn’t the optimal way to spend my senior year, but we have to make sacrifices to keep everybody safe during this pandemic,” he said. “As far as my experience, there hasn’t been any problems with logging into my classes and getting my assignments done. The teachers are cooperative and don’t give out too much work, so everything has been going smoothly so far.”
Junior Caedon Poe would concur, noting that online learning eliminates a human element in the educational process.
“My virtual experience has been going well,” said Caedon. “Problems rarely occur with connection, technology, etc. One thing I do miss is the physical presence of my teachers, but we need to take precautions with this pandemic. This is an issue that can’t be taken lightly.”
The school board announced that another meeting will be held prior to December 11 to determine if the school district will remain in remote learning, move to a hybrid school calendar, or revert back to traditional, face-to-face instruction. It seems with the current situation we are in, only time will tell.