IT’S TIME TO SAY GOODBYE TO ONLINE: A HISTORY OF LINCOLN PARK SCHOOLING IN THE MIDST OF COVID-19
FEATURE: One part of Lincoln Park's Next Step story series
October 21, 2020
Ever since COVID-19 hit, trying to find ways to do school with some sort of normalcy has been tricky. We’re here to tell you the facts of how these important choices were made and what is happening today, as well as opinions from students and teachers on how these past four weeks went for them.
“I think a decision [on going virtual] was mostly made just because there were a lot of unknowns,” says principal Lindsay Rodgers. “When you track everything, there have been highs and lows in Beaver County…[The cases in Beaver County], their numbers kinda remained consistent, but it really wasn’t a great consistency. It was in around that five figure we were looking at. That being said, I think our board, especially with the nature of the way we run our school, we did not feel comfortable… they were having a lot of breakouts.”
Knowing why this choice was made, it’s time to look back and reflect on how the four weeks online went.
the teachers and students are all so helpful. The atmosphere is great and everyone is constantly supporting each other”
— Eva Hines
Eva Hines, a junior musical theatre major who’s attending her first year here at Lincoln Park, said, “I was a little disappointed that corona had to put a dent in my first year at Lincoln, but I’m so happy because of all the support I get from all my friends and teachers. My classes have been so welcoming, and the teachers and students are all so helpful. The atmosphere is great and everyone is constantly supporting each other through every step, and I couldn’t be more grateful for all the help adjusting to the new school.”
Hines’ experience has been relatively smooth, but others went through a rough patch.
“[Online classes] are kinda annoying, to tell you the truth,”Abby Mitchell, a sophomore dance major from Montour, stated. “But also, sitting through that class most of the classes end up being lectures, and I just can’t pay attention the whole time. And nobody wants to talk during it, and it’s really awkward and really long.””
With Mitchell’s point of the length of these sessions on the Zoom calls, Georgia Williams, a sophomore pre law major, mentioned what could have helped:
“I feel like [breaks in between classes] could be longer ‘cause five minutes isn’t a lot of time, especially if you have other stuff–distractions–going on in your house.”
Although students mention these cons, online teachers are well aware of what this style of learning can do to us.
Desirea Hairston, one of the English teachers at Lincoln Park, addressed this via email: “Because every student has different levels of motivation and grit, I think online learning is effective with some students and ineffective with others. With online classes, a student is only going to get out of the class what they’re willing to put in.”
She also mentioned, “I am worried about the students that want to do well and probably would succeed in the classroom but are just too distracted in distance learning without the classroom management of teachers. I’m also worried about the long term effects of the students who have not taken distance learning seriously as they move on in their high school career.”
We may be through a computer screen, but our teachers see clearly what is and isn’t working.
Like Mrs. Hairston said, she understands what students like Jayleigh Mangus, who is a junior health science major, feel.
“I personally feel like I learn better in the classroom, so when it comes down to choosing, I’d rather be in school,” says Mangus. “The teachers are doing amazing with online this year, but I just feel like I’m not getting the whole experience being online. I mean, even if it’s for two days a week, I feel like it would be better than nothing.”
As much as some would like to go back, some are taking this time to relax.
“Online is so much harder to focus,” said Alyssa Sanko, a sophomore health science major. “I text in class. Today I ate pasta, and I had a pita pocket sandwich during class. I don’t hide it. I just go for it.”
And Sanko is not the only one that brings a snack.
Linnea Mckinney, an eighth grade musical theater major, admitted she eats PopTarts during class while Aubrey Hedzik mentioned, “What I like about online school is that I don’t have to get on the bus everyday. I get to sleep a bit more.”
Since our classes are through a computer, some teachers may not be able to see what students are sneaking, and they may also not be aware of technical difficulties students are facing as well.
Lincoln Park’s physics teacher and “technology guru” Jared Schmidt said via email, “I feel that online instruction seems to be going well for many, but I have had numerous students requiring assistance from connectivity to the internet to requiring a new Chromebook.’’
Most people agreed to this issue, like Sydney Paolino-Ciencin, an eighth grade musical theatre major from Hopewell.
“My classes have been going very well so far. There have been a few bugs.””
— Sydney Paolino-Ciencin
However, it seems the arts classes have been experiencing the most setbacks.
Tom Schaller, the director of the Theatre Department, went on to say, “The lowest common denominator is probably people’s connectivity from home. That’ll affect whether or not someone can do a cold reading of something live or do a performance live.”
Knowing now that the option of hybrid schooling is available based on the school board vote last Monday, it’s time for some of us to get back in the swing of things.
Mitchell talks about the reality of this: “I mean, I haven’t gone to school since March, so I kinda like to ease into it, and also just kinda with the virus in general, it’s probably best to play it safe. Like if we were choosing between hybrid and fully going back, probably best to choose hybrid because that lowers our chances of cases.”
As students prepare for this change, Dr. Rodgers does the same.
“I’ve actually spent the last week and a half slinging furniture around making sure we have everything spaced and positioned where we need to be.”
It’s a difficult time, but the most important thing (no matter how bad online-learning is) is to stay safe. Luckily, Lincoln Park is taking the necessary steps.