Watch What You Wish For

Adelaide Parker

Raise your hand if you’ve ever wished school would be canceled. Now keep that hand up if you’d still make that wish after living through 2020. Quarantine has left teenagers across the nation longing for the very thing they once wished to cancel: school. After months of solitude, Utah students were ecstatic to find out that classes would resume this fall. However, the school year we returned to in September was very different from the one we left behind last March.

In order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of schools throughout the United States made the decision to move classes online. From preschoolers to graduate students, people of all ages have been thrust into a new and unfamiliar learning environment, forcing students and teachers to adjust.

“It seems very robotic,” says Kalina Manova, a West High student, when describing online school. “[We] just awkwardly sit in a classroom with a bunch of people on a black screen who are on mute. I miss being able to actually communicate.” Indeed, online school has left many feeling isolated and alone. Students are hesitant to participate, feeling singled out. “If you want to talk in class you kind of have to talk in front of everyone. It’s definitely not the same.”
Participation isn’t the only thing that is different. Homework, extracurriculars: entire class structures have been changed to fit an online model.

“[They’re] putting us in 6-hour zoom calls plus hours of homework, and expecting us to still be sane and motivated after that,” says Max Hart, another West student.
Without hallway breaks between class, club meetings, and cafeteria lunches breaking up the constant stream of classes, online school can be draining and tedious. Many feel overwhelmed by this constant demand for time and attention, stretched thin between a myriad of classes, assignments, and Canvas quizzes. “Teachers tend to be overworking us because they feel like they need to be compensating for the lack of real school. So it’s just overwhelming,” says Kalina.

But despite its drawbacks, West’s students are finding ways to make the best of this new environment. “I’ve cleaned out my desk and finally organized my files on my computer in order to facilitate a more organized experience for learning,” says Henry Zheng, another West student. “In Zoom calls, it’s easier to multitask, and I get more work done that way. It has made doing homework much easier.”

“Online school is by far the best option right now,” says Yvonne Kim. “No matter how inconvenient, to keep our loved ones, teachers, and each other safe, we have to stick with online school.”

Although it wasn’t exactly the return to school West was hoping for, this year has been memorable nonetheless. Despite its unusual nature, students and teachers are doing their best to make sure online school is as comfortable and stress-free as possible. Like all things, the pandemic will eventually end and we will be back at West enjoying the aspects of school that are lacking online. And when that happens, we will never wish for school to be canceled again. Well, until it’s time for finals.