As Minnesota enters what is expected to be the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in our state, RCLS is preparing to move to Remote Learning for what we fully anticipate will be the limited four weeks of class that are planned. Clearly, this is not what we hoped or expected of December, but we are exceedingly grateful for the weeks of in-person learning that have led up to this point. Here at RCLS, we firmly believe that learning happens best in the context of trusting teacher-student relationships, when teachers know and can teach to a student’s strengths and weaknesses. The 11 weeks of class that we have had in person have granted us the time to create those relationships, so we are ready, albeit sad, to carry learning to a remote context for this presumably brief amount of time.
As we do so, we are keenly sensitive not just to the academic needs of our students, but to their social and spiritual needs, as well. To that end, we wanted to get the insider perspective from our students. What was remote learning like last spring? What is in-person learning like in the middle of a pandemic? How are these two contexts different? Is anything the same? What do our students hope for the future?
In a recent compare/contrast writing assignment in 8th grade, students afforded us that perspective. We’ve included two of them here. Together, they illuminate those issues that you might expect to be important to a middle-school student––and some that might surprise you, as well.
We thank these 8th graders for giving us permission to publish their "compare and contrast" essays, and we celebrate the resilience of students who remind us: a) both [learning] situations "end up being okay" and b) "God has a plan for us."
Covid-19 makes the overall school experience very different. It has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs, but I think both situations end up being okay. The one I personally like better is online school. It gave me more freedom and time to do what I wanted and needed to do. The fourth quarter of last year [2019-20] was all done online while the first quarter of the new school year was done in-person.
Last year’s fourth quarter was quite the experience. It was very hard to adapt to at first, but I was very fast to catch on. Compared to regular school the schedule was so much more flexible. I woke up at eight o’clock in the morning and had a full hour to eat, stretch, call friends, and many other things. During the day classes were short and we had the rest of our allotted time to work on any assignments we got. I almost always had very little homework. My stress levels were very low. The whole online system was completely different. It was hard to ask a teacher for help on an assignment as it would have to be over Hangouts or in a Meet, but I think once I got the hang of online school, it was easy.
In this year’s first quarter, we have been doing in-school learning. As opposed to online school, I barely have any time in the afternoon or the day because of homework, sports, confirmation, and other factors. I barely have any time to do anything in the morning. I wake up a little past six o’clock in the morning. I am at school by around seven-thirty o’clock. My stress levels are very high. It is not terrible, but I much prefer the layout and schedule of online school than actual school.
This year, it is good to see my friends, but last spring, I felt like I was seeing my friends in quarantine. I called them and hung out with them occasionally, so I was fine not seeing them in school.
In conclusion, online school freed my schedule and made my stress levels very low. Regular in-person school has a tight schedule and little room for relaxation. I would like to go back to online school; however, it looks like for now at least, we will be staying in school.
Last school year, everything changed. Schools and jobs were shut down and everyone was forced to stay home and stay away from other people. This all happened because of Coronavirus. But things are better now, and we’re back in school. A lot of things are different from the fourth quarter of seventh grade, when we were in school online, and the first quarter of eighth grade, when we are learning in person. Some things have stayed the same, though.
One thing that hasn’t changed is we still have the same basic classes as last year. We didn’t have P.E. or art or technology when we were learning online in the spring, but we still had classes like English, history, and math. Even though we didn’t have the exact same classes as a usual quarter last year during online learning, our classes were the same length of time. The amount of time in a class in school is about forty minutes. This is how long we were in class online in the spring. I know that a lot of schools doing online school this year are doing fewer classes that have longer time periods, but our classes stayed about the same.
Another thing that hasn’t changed is my classmates. This year we still have basically the same people in our class. Jack left, and Olivia and Eva are new, but overall it’s the same. I’ve been with these people since sixth grade. Everyone in our class is so unique, but it works. I’m grateful to have them in my class.
Something that is different between online classes last spring and in-person classes this year, though, is the amount of time we’re in school. This is because we’re doing in-person school, and we have extra classes. Even though I didn’t like online school, I miss not having to be in school for multiple hours a day. After school I hung out with friends and saw my cousins. I was allowed to actually do stuff after school, unlike now.
Chapel families are also different this year. This year we get to be chapel leaders because we’re eighth graders. I like it. Last year we didn’t get to do all the fun, end-of-the-year things with our grade and chapel families. I was sad about that. Hopefully we get to do all of the fun activities this year.
There are also some different teachers this year. Last year, I had Mrs. Korsmo as my math teacher. She was a really good teacher, and she was very nice. I liked her. She was also my teacher in sixth grade. I miss her a lot. I thought Mrs. Korsmo was going to get to see me finish school at RCLS. But this year, Miss Bautch is my math teacher. She’s nice too, and she’s a good teacher.
In conclusion, this year and last year are very different. I don’t really know if the change was for the good, but I know God has a plan for us. My hope for the future is that we’ll find a vaccine and that this whole thing will go away.
May it be so! Be well, RCLS.
Grace. Faith. Learning for Life. At school. At home. For always.