Online School, So Far


Simone Hoagland, Reporter

JBS has been online for weeks now, and with new grade levels, teachers, systems, and many Zoom meetings, students and teachers have differing opinions on the results of online school. 

Technological experience, subject, and preferred methods of teaching all affect teachers’ opinions on online school. Some, who are more familiar with online platforms and technology, have had a smooth transition to a virtual setting. “[School is going] much better than anticipated, and that’s all to the credit of my students who are engaged, alert, and willing to be flexible,” said Mrs. Donovan, an English teacher. “So far, I would say I am surprised how engaged all my students are during online learning,” added Dr. Walther, an environmental science teacher. 

But for teachers that are not as fluent with Zoom and other tools, online school has created many obstacles in teaching and connecting to students.“It’s gone as well as it could, but it doesn’t mean it’s gone well,” said Mr. Nicholas, who teaches multiple levels of history classes. He continued, “I am not real adept with technologies and the more you know about the tech world, the more manipulation of the medium you can do to make class good and interesting. When I’m in class, I can do all kinds of tricks, but I’m trying to learn the [online] tricks. I’m pleased with almost all my students, how hard they are trying to stay focused and involved and participating in discussions.” 

In addition to the logistical struggles of virtual learning, some teachers have difficulty engaging their students the same way they would in the classroom. “I find it a struggle to create a meaningful experience online. It’s difficult to figure out what the added value is of me when my students aren’t there in person,” said Mr. Haveman, a math teacher. 

“As a department chair, I know that it can feel a little overwhelming for some teachers who don’t feel as comfortable with those platforms. There’s so many elements and you’re constantly going back and forth,” said Madame Clement-Bayard, a French teacher and Chair of the Modern Languages Department. 

The Class of 2021 also has mixed opinions on how their senior year at Burroughs has gone so far. “Online school is definitely not ideal, but this year has been a lot better and I’m able to focus more than at the end of last year,” said Iris Loegering (‘21). 

Many seniors, who are used to switching classes and walking around the Burroughs campus, have had difficulty staring at a screen all day. “[It’s] hard to stay healthy when you’re sitting in between the same four walls for eight hours every day. I might donate all of my school books to charity right now. Honestly, I’m just glad we get to go back soon,” said Christion Wynn (‘21). 

Other students complain of the physical toll of staying at home. “My eyes are so sore, and even though I stand up to move around between every single class I still get so stiff from sitting too long. Doing homework is much harder than before because that means more sitting. I think I need to figure out a way to stand and wiggle around and still manage to focus while on Zoom,” said Tracy Xue (‘21). 

While virtual learning was not ideal for many seniors, students remain optimistic and are looking for ways to improve their schooling. “I’m lucky because I’ve got a really good schedule. It’s definitely a bummer that I can’t see all my classmates but I think Burroughs is making the best of this out of all the schools I’ve heard of,” said Ithan Levy (‘21). 

Even with the tumultuous start of their last year at Burroughs, Seniors are trying to make the most out of Zoom and hybrid classes. “The adjustments to distance learning and this Covid-19 world have been weird, but I’m managing it pretty well. Obviously, classes over Zoom aren’t ideal, but I’m trying to look at the bright side of things. Having my laptop makes taking notes easier, and having no friends around to distract me makes free periods more productive. Hopefully, we can get on campus soon, but if not, we’ll all make due and keep on learning this new normal,” said Leyla Fern King (‘21). 

The Zoom classroom has even provided a bonding experience for some Seniors. “Although the daily breakout rooms during online school may be awkward, they have also been extremely fulfilling,” notes Nina Zhou (‘21). “ They have forced me to branch out and talk to people I normally wouldn’t talk to in person, and out of that I have gained new perspectives, new friendships, and most importantly, an even deeper love for the Class of 2021.”