Hybrid for high schoolers: a success?

Students+are+finally+taught+in-person+by+Mark+Nevard.

Dani Lewis

Students are finally taught in-person by Mark Nevard.

Ever since the coronavirus struck the United States way back in March, school has been completely online for the students of Oakmont.  Finally, the long-awaited return to in person learning is upon us. 

It was announced earlier this month that the students of our public high school would  be joining the elementary school students in the hybrid learning model, which was designed by our school administrative team.  This was put into effect on October 15th, when Cohort B students arrived at the school for the first time this season!

The hybrid learning model is intended to encourage safety and social distancing in the community by dividing the student body into two cohorts – A and B- in which they learn at school on certain days and learn from home on others.  Only Cohort A students commute to school on Mondays and Tuesdays, while students in Cohort B go on Thursdays and Fridays.

As for Wednesday, this day is the only one of the three out of five days that all students, regardless of cohort, are spending at home.  Important committee meetings are also held on this day, where members reassess the virus rates in our towns as more and more people begin to interact.  Additionally, this gap between having Cohort A students and Cohort B students at school allows for the custodial staff to clean and disinfect.

Using this system, students are appearing at Oakmont at last.  This leaves the question: how do our district members – students, staff, and administration – feel about this change? 

In order to deeply explore every aspect of this topic, we must look at those who are working in school as well as those who are working at home while others are in school.  

Most students actually feel that their ordeals are going quite well.  Of course, not perfectly- but that’s a given with the current circumstances.

A recent poll on The Oakmonitor proves this.  According to the data it collected, 17 students out of the 38 that answered would rate their experience in-person as 7-8 and 8 would rate it as 5-6.  Definitely not normal, but better than remote!

When asked how she would describe her overall experience hybrid learning so far, freshman Olivia Palubeckis said,  “It’s been fun- which is not something I normally say about school.”  

For staying home on some days, she stated that she likes how “I don’t have to worry about small things like going to the bathroom because I can type in chat.”  As for going to school physically, she mentioned that she liked it because the classes were small.  

Additionally, another student named Thandiwe Frazier explained the benefits of being in school on some days and at home on others. “You can learn the material in person and then go home the rest of the week to practice or study.”

On the other hand, some students feel that switching between online classes and in-person classes can be very puzzling.  A few note issues about technology as well as about the methods that their teachers are using to teach two cohorts simultaneously. 

Likewise, some of our teachers express similar concerns, including the Algebra 1 teacher here at Oakmont, Ms. Karissa Tammaro.  During an interview, she said,  “My greatest difficulty while teaching remotely and physically at the same time is trying to keep the material we are learning interesting.” 

While learning Covid-style, the typically collaborative course of action in classrooms, is difficult to replicate.  “..With restrictions and needing to be close to the computer for the remote students, I find myself at my desk most of the time,” Tammaro added. 

Moreover, lots of students and teachers alike have complained about back, neck, and eye soreness due to the plugged-in nature of learning remotely.  So many district members, including myself, miss having activity and participation in their day to day lives. 

In spite of all of these restrictions, the coronavirus has forced us to put in place, school members are hoping that the hybrid learning model will help get people moving and seeing other people again. 

While switching to hybrid learning was definitely a step in the right direction, nothing can beat the normality of traditional in-person learning, but adaptation is a skill we are all developing.  Hang in there, everyone!