By Chikamso Chijioke
Back in March of 2020, when Governor Walz announced that schools would be closed until further notice, many students were ecstatic. Despite the pandemic worsening, they took it as a break from school, an early spring break even. But as time went on and distance learning got underway, that joy has vanished, replaced with stress and dread.
Distance learning has brought challenges for many Como students, who have a hard time understanding material in an online format. “It’s hard to communicate with teachers if I am having trouble understanding [material],” said Marrea Taylor-Knighten, a junior at Como Park Senior High School.
Others all across the district have felt the distance learning effect. In December of last year, the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported that SPPS students were “failing 39 percent of their high school classes, up from 19 percent last fall.”
“I think the biggest reason why online school sucks is because it’s not about the everyday school experience, where you can socialize with people. It’s literally only about passing,” Taylor-Knighten said.
Learning curve for teachers, too
Como teachers have also come to understand the toils of distance learning. Science teacher Samuel Ducatman said he thinks distance learning requires a lot more discipline than normal school to succeed. “Online learning is tough and, even when done well, it’s tough. Many of us are new to teaching online, and teachers are still learning how to do a good job,” Ducatman said.
It seems both teachers and students have had a hard time adapting to and succeeding in an online environment. However, that is not the case for all.
Some students enjoy the flexibility distance learning provides. “I think it’s been easier since we are able to get more time for our assignments, and I also get in extra hours of training when I’m not doing school or at practice,” said star basketball athlete Cloey Dmytruk. “I like getting to do things on my time rather than be in the classroom all day.”
Because students have to learn new material and complete assignments online, with less guidance and motivation than usual, distance learning presents a unique challenge for many staff and students. With uncertainties about the return to the classroom, Como students and staff undoubtedly must work together to make sure everyone has the chance to succeed.
Writer Chikamso Chijioke is a junior at Como Park Senior High School.