Students Comment on the Transition to Hybrid Learning

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Lukas Werner

Sophomore Maya Raphael said, “the success of in-person learning is [determined] by the student body’s willingness to listen and adapt.”

Alec Willard-Herr, Staff Reporter

Following Gov. Kate Brown’s announcement on Dec. 23 that Oregon schools would be allowed to reopen starting Jan. 1, La Salle announced that they would be reopening with the ambition of starting hybrid learning in February. 

The Falconer spoke with five students to decipher the worries, hopes, and excitements of the student body in anticipation of the return to campus.

Some students expressed concerns about contracting and spreading the virus at school, while other students have enthusiasm towards the prospect of being able to connect with classmates in person again. 

For safety and practicality, the administrative team has decided to split up cohorts based on zip codes. This is partially to ensure that families with students in different grades will be in the same cohort.

Sophomore Raphael De Leon said he is worried the cohorts will isolate him from his friends who don’t live in the same area. “A lot of my friends are from [a different] district,” he said. “If I’m not paired up with them, I would definitely not be as excited about going back to school.”

Senior Olivia Pisaneschi said that she was primarily concerned with students’ activities outside of the school environment. “I don’t know if people are following the guidelines outside of school, so even if we are [following regulations] in school it’s [still] really scary,” she said. 

She also expressed her anxieties towards returning to school with family members in compromising situations. “I don’t think that, at this time, it is the right thing to go back to school,” Pisaneschi said. 

Freshman Rui Dunlop said that she feels students might not follow regulations in place from the school, and students might be “reckless” even on campus. 

Although students who choose to participate in hybrid learning will be required to wear masks, following proper procedure is not guaranteed outside of school. 

Pisaneschi said she believes in this same concept, as regulations put in place might make schools a safe environment, but that contraction will occur because of external contact. “It’s going to be [from] outside,” she said. “The parties, the activities – it’s not going to be in the classroom.”

Additionally, it can’t be assured that students won’t spend time with their friends from the other cohort outside of school, or during extracurricular activities, increasing the chances of spreading the virus. 

“I fear that people won’t take the risk seriously,” sophomore Maya Raphael said. “Following protocol and keeping masks on is essential to our safety. It will be hard to restrain from acting as we used to, for socializing and social contact was a highlight for all of us. However, if we want this to work we need safety to prevail.”

Others worried that students attending class over Zoom and those who don’t participate in the hybrid schedule will have a suboptimal learning experience and that in-class assignments will be heavily geared towards students attending class in person. 

De Leon said he is afraid that it will be difficult for students to interact in a meaningful way over Zoom calls when there are also students on campus. For teachers, it’s “hard to talk to people in the classroom, but also on Zoom,” De Leon said. “I feel like teachers would focus more on those in person.” 

The goal is that both students at home and those at school will receive the same quality of education, but there is still the concern that students at home might feel left behind because of difficulty communicating and contributing to what’s going on in class. 

“I hope to see that teachers are still going to be interacting with the people who choose not to go back,” Pisaneschi said, “and still push to have that connection with [students].”

Regardless of individual concerns, everyone The Falconer interviewed agreed that returning to school would have a positive impact on students’ emotional health. 

Junior Tobias Schenk said he is looking forward to reuniting with his friends. “I haven’t seen half of them in a year, so it’s gonna be really good to see them again and actually be around people,” Schenk said. “I think that social aspect is one of the bigger parts of school.” 

Dunlop feels similarly. As a freshman, she is excited to be introduced to her classmates and teachers for the first time. “I’m excited to actually meet my classmates for once since everyone’s new in my grade,” Dunlop said. 

She emphasized that starting high school online has made connecting with classmates and teachers one of the biggest challenges. 

 “I don’t know anyone in my grade to reach out to,” said Dunlop also noting that not knowing any of her classmates and not having any connection with her teachers makes staying engaged especially difficult.

For the freshmen class, the commencement of hybrid learning provides them with the opportunity to meet their classmates and teachers. For all grade levels, the hybrid learning schedule will hopefully make the learning experience more enjoyable. 

“Personally I’m hoping for a higher motivational level, and I’m hoping for others to be more motivated as well,” De Leon said. 

The announcement and logistics of hybrid learning have caused a wide variety of different reactions and thoughts in the La Salle community. While some are eager to return to school and reconnect with friends, others are worried about the possible implications of bringing the virus home, especially with how slowly vaccines have been distributed among Oregonians.  

“It’s a little nerve-wracking,” Dunlop said. “Knowing that… the vaccine isn’t really that accessible and not everyone’s going to be able to get it or want to get it.” 

Despite having concerns, Raphael, among others, thinks the shift to a hybrid schedule has the potential to serve as a great opportunity for students.

“If a school is truly prioritizing safety and there aren’t COVID outbreaks, then you might as well take the opportunity,” Raphael said. “The success of in-person learning is [determined] by the student body’s willingness to listen and adapt.”