Navigating high school during a pandemic: EWHS students reflect on first month of online school

Ariana Burr

Last month we checked in with five Edmonds-Woodway High students to see how they were feeling about the approaching online school situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, they had the same answer: Though it certainly isn’t the most ideal situation for anyone, we needed to do what we could for the betterment of society. This month, we will look at how the same five students are feeling after a month of online schooling. Though the Edmonds School District has since released announcements about possibly trying to open up some elementary classes as COVID-19 cases go down, officials have held steadfast in the idea that high school will stay remote for the time being. Edmonds-Woodway specifically follows a schedule of Zoom classes on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for students, with Wednesdays left open for independent study and office hours. Campus visits are limited to the most essential of needs — the majority of which are paperwork exchanges or supply pick-ups. During these times, there is social distancing and masks are required, and most visits limit students and parents to staying inside vehicles or outside of the school.

— Ariana Burr, EWHS Class of 2021

Jacob Sawyer

Academics-focused senior Jacob Sawyer says that though the change to remote learning has negatively impacted his social life with friends, it has also given him new freedoms. When asked what’s working, Sawyer said that it is “how I balance my time compared to when we were doing in-person schooling…My greatest joy during this time are being able to spend more time with my family and having a better sleep schedule compared to before online school started.” There are some drawbacks, however: the decline in social interactions and technology frustrations. “What really isn’t working with online schooling for me is my extracurriculars and music classes, which are much harder if not impossible to do in a fully online setting,” Sawyer said. “Also, it is way harder to get help from teachers with new concepts since office hours are fairly limited and busy. The only huge frustration for me right now is struggling with different tech issues since my internet connection isn’t that great.” What Sawyer says he misses most about online school, though, “is being able to interact with my friends on a much more regular basis and cooperate when it comes to schoolwork. Overall, group work environments are much worse online and in classes where I don’t know many people it’s pretty hard to make new friends.” Sawyer concluded by stating he is looking forward to working with both teachers and classmates in-person once again, because he finds it much more fulfilling to learn in that environment.

Zui Krumroy

Athlete and senior Zui Krumroy is finding conflicting emotions, stating that remote learning has mainly been extremely positive, but with that has come major social drawbacks. “Online school is actually going pretty great…my schedule is super flexible…which I definitely think is an advantage over high school,” they said. Krumroy also mirrored Sawyer’s emotions, stating: “The whole social aspect of my life has pretty much disappeared…[however], it’s relieving not having all the drama and chaos of in-person school and I have more time to be me and do my work. The downside? “It’s now super easy to become very isolated,” they said, adding this is especially true for students who may have problems with socialization or even those who have a lot going on outside of school and have never had to really “make time”for friends. Like Sawyer, Krumroy is looking forward to the social interaction once in-person classes begin.

Ella Suico

Underclassman Ella Suico said she sometimes finds it difficult to navigate technical issues. “It can be really confusing technically,” she said. “Certain teachers put zoom links and assignments in different places, Zoom can act up sometimes, and breakout rooms can be rough.” (For those unfamiliar with the video-chat service Zoom, a breakout room is when the students are essentially put into groups, where only a certain group is on a part of the call.) However, Suico also noted that she is enjoying the spare time, “It’s nice only having half the day scheduled and being able to manage the other half myself,” she said. “I find joys in spending time with friends, my dog and using my extra time to work on art.” She is, however, very much looking forward to in-person learning once again so she can meet her new teachers, new classmates and once again see her friends in-person daily.

Micah Tolbert

Senior Micah Tolbert said that one of his major disappointments during this time is the casual social interaction of daily school. “I miss the school environment and being able to actually see my friends and say hi as we walk down the hall,” he said, along with “all of the school events that we all cherished so much like the football games or homecoming.” Tolbert put into words what many students, especially seniors, are feeling during this time: missing major events and traditions that come with being in high school. This past weekend would have been Edmonds-Woodway High School’s annual homecoming dance and celebration — a cherished time every year for those who attend the school. Many seniors reposted pictures and memories last weekend from previous homecomings in honor of their last homecoming being canceled. Technology has also been an issue for Tolbert, which happens “on both ends, laggy connectivity and poor communication from the school district.” Though teachers and staff are generally understanding during this time of uncertainty, Tolbert said at times they expect students to be handling this situation as if they have gone through it before. “Personally, I know of numerous peers who have sent emails and called teachers out on this discrepancy on their part,” he said. Tolbert said that he is looking forward to going back to an environment with fewer distractions.

Zia Owens

Another underclassman who has gone through the highs and lows of virtual schooling is Zia Owens. Overall, she had mainly positive notes to make about online learning, “I love the combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning — I work best independently, so having ample time for self-guided study has made it really easy to stay on top of everything,” she said. “I find this split model super accommodating of different learning styles!” However, Owens has also has noted a change in pace in her classes, “I feel like a lot of teachers have slowed down the pace of their lessons, and while I appreciate the sentiment behind their doing so, it makes classes unbelievably boring,” she said. “The digital interface is only as much of an obstacle as the individual teachers make it in terms of pacing in my opinion.” Owens also noted that procrastination has been a problem as schooling is much more independent now. Similar to the other students interviewed, Owens said that the largest drawback during this time is socially based. “[I miss] all the little encounters that made life better — spontaneously going to the dairy queen after school with friends, talking with people you don’t share classes with, feeling powerful alone on the bus at 6:45 a.m.,” she said.

— By Ariana Burr


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