Pelham Students Express Their Opinions On Virtual vs. In-Person Learning

Sara Harris, Staff Reporter, Freshman

In response to Covid-19, schools all around the world have adjusted their method of instruction. A lot of thought has gone into each school district’s preferred teaching style, varying from in-person learning to entirely virtual classrooms. Pelham’s response to the pandemic has been a combination of the two, a hybrid option, with the ability to be entirely virtual. Students and teachers alike are slowly becoming adjusted to this new way of education. An overwhelming number of students find themselves missing the hallways of Pelham Memorial High School, while others enjoy learning from the comforts of home. But which method do students prefer more?

Not surprisingly, a majority of Pelham’s high school student body, 60.8%, favored in-school learning. 

“I love being able to talk to my teachers and peers face to face. I find it easier to learn when I am in the classroom because when I am online, I suffer from connection issues and inconsistent practices. I also feel like I comprehend the lessons easier when I am in-person, and if I don’t understand, I can quickly ask a question”, one student, who preferred not to be identified, said.*

For decades, schools have been particularly focused on the social and interactive elements of learning or “active learning” as it is often described. Without the ability to communicate questions and concerns, students may find themselves confused.

“Being a senior during these times is so hard, and many people do not understand it! Having 2-3 days in school every week brings me some joy,” an anonymous student said.*

This sentiment is very similar to what last year’s seniors across the world felt as their last memories of high school were spent worrying about the global crisis instead of enjoying their final year of grade school.

However, there were still 7.8% of students who found online learning to be preferable. Safety and comfort appear to be the two overwhelming reasons students find virtual learning a preferred method of learning during the current pandemic. The more relaxed environment indulges students with the comforts of home. 

“In remote learning, I enjoy being able to sleep in, which I wouldn’t be able to do in person. I also enjoy being able to have my lunch immediately,” another student, who preferred not to prove their name, said.*

The flexibility that virtual learning provides students allows them to enjoy less stressful learning conditions. Whether because of preference or for precautionary measures, many students have decided to go entirely virtual, roughly 11.8% of Pelham’s student body.

“I enjoy knowing that there is a meager chance of getting anyone in my family sick since I am constantly at home, and I enjoy being able to participate in classes without having to worry about wearing a mask or having a screen [surround me] all-day”, an all-virtual student, who preferred anonymity, said.*

Despite the sedentary aspects of being behind a computer screen hour after hour, Pelham teens enjoy the lower stress and Covid friendly atmosphere day in day out. 

The current solution to the Covid pandemic is a hybrid method, consisting of two cohorts, A and B. Each cohort is assigned two days of in-school learning, while the other remains virtual to limit student exposure and reduce facility crowding. This compromise of both online and in school learning is favored by 16.7% of Pelham students. 

“I don’t mind either. I am fine doing a blend of both. What I like about virtual is not having to wake up at 5 in the morning to get to school on time, but what I like about in-school learning is that I find it easier to learn,” said one student, who asked to not to have their name included in this article.*

The consensus is that virtual, although maybe less productive, is a less stressful environment and gives students more flexibility, whereas, in school, there are fewer comforts. However, when a student is present in the classroom, collaborating and communicating with peers and teachers, there is a more social and hands-on environment. A healthy mix of both seems ideal, yet the numbers don’t illustrate this theory. Only 16.7% of the student body found hybrid to be enjoyable, while more than half wished for the traditional full days of in-person learning. 

The introspective interviews and the evaluation of Pelham Memorial High School’s students’ preferred methods of learning were intended to develop a better understanding of students and their practices of coping with new learning styles. Before Covid, students complained about the expectations of a high school learning environment. It now seems that these very teens wish to go back to what they heavily criticized, arguably one of the most ironic aspects of Covid. It will be interesting to see once Covid is over, if these emotions felt by students are maintained, or if the American teenager will go back to complaining about in-person school. Through the lens of students, the school system may always be seen as a burden restricting teens through its structured nature, yet maybe in a time in which there is seemingly no consistency, teens need the normalcy of the high school structure they’ve come to miss.