The Workloads Before and After Covid
As we’ve all been experiencing since the beginning of 2021, the coronavirus has had its moments with lots of cases at the beginning of the year and also settling down more recently. In the past few weeks, Wake County has opened up schools to allow more students to head back to school in rotations and cohorts.
Below is an interview with Sarah Bess Eskridge. She’s a freshman this year at Apex High School and participates in sports for the school, along with extracurricular activities in and outside of school. She took part in answering some questions based on before, during, and after her experience going back into one of the rotations, just last week! Feel free to read more about what she says!
Did you enjoy being in person or online better?
I preferred being in person!
What was something you enjoyed most about being in person?
I’d say getting to interact with my classmates and meet new people, and I was able to be more productive.
What is something you didn’t really like about being in person?
I’d say having to wake up early again.
What’s something you like more about online classes?
I enjoy that I get to work at my own pace, but that can also be a bad thing because it is easier to procrastinate and fall behind on the work and assignments.
Do you think more people, despite which you like best, like online or in person?
I think more people like in person that have experienced it, but there’s also a great amount of virtual academy learners who prefer online. This might be just due to the classes they are taking or just personal preference.
How would you describe the environment being back in person?
It is somewhat strange because of the smaller class sizes, and with the masks it can be harder to start conversation. But once you get talking after you finish work, it feels great to have non-school related conversations with my classmates again.
Did your workload change from being in person all week to then coming back home the following week?
My workload seemed like it was the same; however it felt like a lot more since I was able to be more productive and get most of it done when I was in person.
How would you describe the amount of time you have at home vs the time you have at school to get work done?
We have the same amount of time, but I spend more time working in person because I don’t have access to distractions like scrolling on my phone.
Would you say that when we had normal in person school last year, would you say there is or isn’t still that idea of – In school/School time vs. At home time? (Explain if you can)
I can’t really answer this for Apex High because I was at Salem Middle last year, but work felt more separated at school versus home whereas now online learning it all feels jumbled together.
If you do sports, do you feel like you ever have enough time for that, schoolwork, and any extracurricular activities you participate in?
I do basketball. I feel like I do enough time for it, but it does take away from free time to spend with family and friends when I have a lot of homework and clubs and sports all in one day
Below you can continue to read more from similar questions that were asked above to a few parents!
If your child does any after school activities like sports or clubs, do they seem to have time for it all? Along with their workloads? (You can explain what “they have time for” and “what they do not have time for”)
All of the parents I interviewed have students who participate in sports and some extracurricular activity of some sort. They all would agree that yes, there is time, but it’s not always reasonably given. One parent explained this as yes, their child can wake up at around 6:00 to get ready and be awake enough for their period coming promptly around 7:00. Then they explained how they do school at home for the rest of their four periods, finish, and then join a club meeting, which is again, online. Once they finish with that, usually leaving early, they go off to practice, and depending on the day, they either go to work right after practice, or they get to come home. Either way, this parent explained it like they already have a busy day and a busy schedule, but then when they come back home after all of that and need to eat dinner, they have to go back to their room and finish homework and tests/quizzes, whatever else they have on. And by the time they finish, it would reasonably be around 7:00-8:00 . But in reality, it would be around 12:00-1am. Which this parents explained is what results in late work and their child getting behind and backed up on work, especially if they get home from their long day and choose to go straight to sleep.
Do you find that your child’s mood depends on social interaction with friends or group activities outside of the house, rather than spending hours at the screen doing work?
Every parent I spoke with agreed with this statement. One of the parents mentioned the more work there is, the more stressed their child seems to get. And anyone who is stressed, especially if they’re being overworked and have too many going on, may break at some point. So balancing some type of social interaction into their week or every couple of days (including sports and extracurricular activities) helps a lot!
Would you say the concept of “At school” or “School/Work time” vs an “At home” period of the day is still relevant with how school works today? (If you relate this back to before the pandemic when students would be in school and then come home for example…)
One of the parents mentioned how both of their kids have actually mentioned feeling like that concept of having “home time” isn’t even in the question anymore. The parent explained how one of her children went back to school for the first time and came home as happy as could be the rest of the week. The student had hardly any homework or extra school work and just got to eat dinner with the family and spend time with her friends when she made plans.
Another parent also explained how their child, who is a virtual academy student, seems to work all day long or at least do something work-related 24/7. Whether it’s school or his job, he hardly has any down time or free time. She even said how she’s watched, and it’s not that her son’s slacking off or on his phone; she explained how he simply works all day because of how much work is given or is needed to catch up on.
What’re your thoughts personally as a parent/guardian about watching and experiencing online school?
Two of the parents said this has definitely been a rollercoaster. There have been many ups and downs and a ton of highs and lows. There have been things as a parent, they mentioned they have both had to adjust to but also more that their children have had to cope with and change their regular routines and daily agendas to fit this new way of learning. One of the parents also mentioned how they felt like there have definitely been good sides of this, especially with how quickly they came up with communicating with the students to get materials out at the very beginning of the year and worked on setting up google meets and zoom classes.
Do you feel that your student has struggled or done better at home or when they were in person? (this is referring to the parents who have had their children go back in person with their rotations)
The one parent that had their children go back in school said they definitely benefited from just a week being in person. They also came home saying how much fun they had and how even if they didn’t know many people in their classes, the teachers were always there to talk and wanted to start conversations. The parent also explained how their children seemed to come home and have such a better understanding of the day and what they were learning and would freely talk about their classes without having to ask how their day went.
What are things you like about online school and/or miss about being in person?
One of the parents whose children are doing virtual academy for the rest of the school year said they definitely miss hearing stories about the school day. They also mentioned how they miss seeing pictures of things such as spirit weeks or fun weeks where the staff and students put everything they could to come together as a whole to show off their school spirit and just make some memories. Another parent added to this saying obviously it isn’t as easy to do this from home but wishes there were ways to improve this and make more efforts to get students involved. Since that was something both parents agreed was one of the key things they remembered from their high school careers.
Overall, as you can see, Sarah Bess and these parents are surely not the only ones who feel this way about school. As I’m sure other parents and students and even staff would also agree. Hopefully by the time the next school year comes around this can be improved and as the days get longer, they won’t seem to be filled as much with work than time for students to have for themselves.