The Pros and Cons of Online Learning

Degen Naldoza and Ingaborg Foutch

Due to the current pandemic that the world is facing, schools are closing their on campus learning and adapting to online school, so that students can stay safe without the risk of COVID-19. The Mirador discusses the pros and cons of online learning and the different viewpoints from each side of the argument. 

Con(Ingaborg): The “high school experience” is something we students have heard countless stories about from our parents, looked forward to since we were young, and dreamt about throughout our middle school years. However, that experience is gone. High school is arguably some of the most significant years of our lives. Not always the easiest years, but, these four years shape us into the people we grow to be in the future. This time is essential for social growth and specifically human interaction. In person, school teaches us the skills of talking with adults (our teachers), making friends, having structure and routine, and learning how to manage our time between academics and extracurriculars. With school being online, we lose a lot of this essential experience. We don’t lose the workload, or the block periods, but we miss out on the day-to-day interaction with the people who may become our life long friends. In person school is vital for students to maximize their learning, social interaction, and also improve mental health.

“I don’t really like online school because I miss socializing with my friends. It’s hard to connect with people over Zoom, so it can get quite boring,” senior Anna Logan said. Spending time with peers is so significant at this age, and for many of us our main source of social interaction comes from being in a classroom. In this environment  we learn to work with different types of people, some we may agree with and some we don’t; either way it is important to get these interactions regardless of if they’re always positive. We learn the most from each other, sometimes even more than the subject we are studying. “It is hard to really connect with teachers and other classmates, and by the end of the day my eyes and brain are burned out from all the zoom,” junior Owen Van Stralen said.

 Another negative outlook on online school is the confusion. Being face-to-face with a teacher and having their in-person help through difficult problems and subject matter that we don’t understand is necessary. Although Zoom is an alternative, it doesn’t compare to having teachers and peers present for help. It is harder to receive this one-on-one help online because it is sometimes awkward to ask questions rather than simply raising your hand and getting direct, private help from your teacher beside your desk. Our needs are catered to much more in person because we have 90 minutes with direct help from teachers and classmates. 

It is also significant to consider the effect of what happens to the students when not in school, which can take a huge toll on students’ mental well being. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains the importance of in-person schooling, “The lack of in-person educational options disproportionately harms low-income and minority children and those living with disabilities. These students are far less likely to have access to private instruction and care and far more likely to rely on key school-supported resources like food programs, special education services, counseling, and after-school programs to meet basic developmental needs. 

There is also much hypocrisy regarding school closures because people are allowed to go to crowded supermarkets and malls, but are unable to work in classrooms with smaller and consisted groups of people. Though, understandably, schools bring in a larger mass of people, there are definitely solutions that compensate for having less people on campus at the same time. An example of this would be having two days on campus with half of the regular amount of students per classroom. If we return school carefully and take precautions, we could academically and mentally help many students. 

Pro: (Degen) Considering our current situation regarding the global pandemic, it is crucial that students and teachers stay at home and learn digitally in these times. Countless lives have been greatly altered by COVID-19 and continue to be affected everyday. According to the COVID-19 alert on Safari, “In California alone there are 751,000 cases, and 14,045 deaths recorded.” Allowing students to come back to school exposes them to others who could potentially be infected with the virus. Some may argue that we are young and could fight off the virus without any issues, however there are other people to take into account. Family members like grandparents or even parents could be impacted by the COVID-19 if a student is infected and brings it home. Teachers also would be exposed to hundreds of students and other co-workers that could potentially carry the virus. 

In addition to these concerns, we also have to take into consideration that the anticipated second wave hasn’t even hit yet. As we are approaching fall and flu season starts back up again, individuals will be more susceptible to illness, which could cause a surge of cases not only in the school but in our entire community. “The worst-case scenario is both [the coronavirus and the flu] are spreading fast and causing severe disease, complicating diagnoses and presenting a double burden on the health care system,” Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at Harvard University, said. Because flu season is starting and individuals are more susceptible to illness this time of year, students should not go back to school in order to avoid a surge of COVID-19 cases.

Reports of coronavirus in high schools that have opened are through the roof, and the virus is spreading like wildfire. Mississippi schools reopened and now, according to BGR News, “Mississippi has the highest number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 children as a result of opening their schools.” Placing hundreds of students in an enclosed area where they have been exposed to many others is dangerous and will ensure that students and their families are infected by the virus. 

As much as students’ high school experience is a crucial part of growing up and developing social bonds with others, students’ lives and the people connected to them are much more important than being able to attend school in person. “As much as I would like to attend school and be able to have a normal high school experience, I know that I am safe at home and will not infect any of my family members or loved ones,” freshman William Hashimoto said. 

To add on, online school isn’t the worst case scenario and students are still receiving a high-quality education that will serve them in the future. Not seeing classmates or being able to socialize with them in class is a struggle for many students. However, when attending online classes, we get an extra hour on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays to sleep in, and a sometimes extra two hours on Wednesdays and Fridays. The regular in-person  schedule had students attending school as early as  8:00 or 8:30 a.m.. Another positive of online learning is that students are able to pick up food and eat whatever they want for lunch, which wasn’t an option before without being allowed off-campus during the lunch period. “I actually like online school, it gives me a chance to spend more time with my family. It’s definitely grown on me as I’ve gotten used to it,” junior Anna Crinks said. Students are still being taught the material that they need in order to succeed in their studies as well as the other benefits seen from this new approach to learning.

Overall, high schools certainly shouldn’t re-open and students should continue to learn online as long as … . A life takes precedence over being able to attend school no matter the circumstance.