Students enjoy freedom of online schooling

This is a student's view as they do online school from South Carolina.

This is a student’s view as they do online school from South Carolina.

Cailyn Johnson, Writer

During the past 12 months, online schooling has allowed more flexibility and freedom with regards to location choice where FCPS students can receive instruction from their teachers, among other positives of virtual learning.

“My siblings and I did online school from Hilton Head for two months,” says Annie Hering, a former RCMS student who now goes to Oakton High School. “It was amazing to look up from my computer and see the golf course and lagoon.” 

Other places students have done remote schooling include Colorado, North Carolina, New York, Ocean City, and South Carolina.

“I went to South Carolina with my family and got to do online school with my cousins,” says Gabi Lopez, RCMS seventh-grader. 

Many other FCPS students traveled to various parts of the country that would not have been impossible if we had been in school buildings. 

RCMS eighth-grader Hannah Siraj said, “I went to Ocean City, which we wouldn’t have been able to do if there was in-person school.” 

Online schooling offered more free time with breaks, no commute/transportation, and asynchronous days. Mondays are asynchronous days for students and planning days for teachers. Those breaks and asynchronous days gave students the opportunity to go on more walks, get more sleep, play with their pets, catch up on school work, talk to friends and other various fun and healthy activities.

“I got to take my dog on walks with my family in-between classes,” said Claire Coticchia, former RCMS student. “It’s a great way to catch up with everyone and spend some quality time together.”

Many agree that the breaks had physical and mental health benefits. 

“During the breaks I took more time to relax and collect myself before my next class,” expressed Abby Greger, eighth-grade RCMS student. 

Although there were many negative aspects of online learning such as less direct instruction, less social interaction, and not seeing teachers and other students face to face, there were also some positive aspects of it.

Roberta Washington, eighth-grade English teacher at RCMS said, “It was easier to build a community online, because people were longing to build relationships. Plus there were no kids disrupting class.”

Many also enjoy the freedom to wear what they please from the comfort of their home. Students weren’t required to turn on their cameras during online school, so they needed very  little time to get ready. 

“I like that I get to wear comfy clothes and pajamas when I do online school,” said Gabi.

Of course many felt a feeling of safety to be home during such a deadly virus. Since we left school over a year ago there have been over 530,000 deaths due to COVID-19. 

Annie said, “I can keep my distance and stay safe in the comfort of my home with online school.”

Another positive feature of online learning is the fact that each teacher has office hours. Office hours allow students to get extra help from their teachers outside of class. 

“I like office hours because students have that 1 on 1 time with teachers. Once school fully reopens I will try to find a way to replicate office hours,” said Ms. Washington. 

Quarantine has also offered some students with an opportunity to make money, while giving back to the community. Many students made masks and sold them to friends and family. Some students also got groceries for elderly neighbors. 

“During quarantine I started a mask making business. I sewed masks and sold them to my family, friends and at my parent’s pharmacy. I sold them for $10 each, and I donated half of the proceeds to a local organization called She Believes in Me,” said Ashley Odeh, former RCMS student. 

Here are a few examples of the fabric the student used to make masks.

Quarantine limited hanging out with friends, social interaction, and going out in public. Although those are negative aspects to many, it also gave people a chance to reflect on themselves and grow.  

“When I was in lockdown I learned to be content with myself. I learned that we don’t have to be stimulated all the time, and that there is productivity in solitude,” said Ms. Washington.

March 12 marked our last day in school last year. Very few expected the events that unfolded in the months that followed. Most FCPS students had almost a year of online learning before the concurrent model started this month.

Devyn Sheehan, eighth-grader at RCMS said, “Everything during that time was so crazy. Enjoy going to school because in a second it could disappear.”

Some friendships were put to the test due to the lack of face-to-face and social interaction during isolation. 

“I think the biggest lesson that I learned is to surround yourself with people who love and truly care about you,” explained Claire. “Quarantine was a great way to see who your true friends really are and that having positive people in your life can really be beneficial.” 

Although some students have returned to school after a year of online school, even more at RCMS have opted to stay fully virtual. We have come a long way with seeing the pandemic situation improve; there is a vaccine approved for people over the age of 16, and there are vaccines being tested for children. 

 “I think that there was this sense that we were all in it together during online school,” said Ms. Washington.