The world has changed dramatically over the course of just a few weeks. Suddenly students that have been getting up every morning and spending the day in a classroom have had to adjust to distance learning. Everything they’ve traditionally done with the help of a teacher in the classroom they’ve had to do online.
In distance learning for Jefferson Township High School, teachers are required to post schoolwork for their students at 7:35 a.m., (the start of a regular school day). At that time, students have the entire day to complete that assignment, unless it is due another day. Teachers are required to stay on standby for emails and questions from students from the time they post the assignment until 12:30 p.m. at least. With that being said, certain teachers who teach multiple different subjects and classes have to put in a lot of extra work to help their students continue learning.
“At school, I would usually stay until 4 or 4:30 in the afternoon to help students or catch up on schoolwork, but now, the planning and grading in a remote learning environment for math is very different and takes a great number of hours,” said high school math teacher Laura Ajaj.
Teachers are required to add more hours of school time onto their average day which can be stressful, especially in a home setting that can be difficult for some students and teachers.
“It is challenging but I am looking at it as a blessing,” said physical education teacher Jason Kalish, who has two young daughters at home. “I am looking at it as time to spend with family while also having to juggle my school responsibilities to give my students the best education possible during these times.”
For some teachers, the situation can be similar to one in the classroom.
“My lessons were mostly digital before we went to distance learning, so I don’t think my students are anxious regarding the presentation of materials,” said English and journalism teacher Maria Clarizio. “In order to maintain the human connection, I post an instructional video every day for all my classes.”
The videos have become a popular route for teachers during these uncharted times, as just like Clarizio, Ajaj has also posted a daily video to keep students afloat. However, certain subjects, such as math, require more hands-on learning, which creates a difficult situation in these uncertain times.
Milestone Moments in Jeopardy
Another part of the social distancing that is difficult, especially for the high school seniors, is the possible cancellation of many moments they’ve looked forward to for the past four years.
“It just really stinks to see that things you work for and look forward to in high school can possibly be canceled,” said senior co-president Kailyn Kerr. “It’s so upsetting that I’m not able to spend my last couple of months of high school with my best friends and see my teachers every day.”
Kerr has worked towards setting up the class prom with her co-president Olivia Oberman for the last four years, which may be all for nothing. “It’s upsetting to think that prom can possibly not happen after all the work we put in, but all you can do is sit back and hope for the best,” she said.
Athletic Endeavors on Hold
Some of the students who lost the most were student athletes. Spring sports including baseball, softball, lacrosse, boys volleyball, golf, and track and field may have lost what they worked for over the last year.
“Coming off a great summer championship win, then grinding all offseason, and for there to be high hopes for the season, it meant a lot because we worked extremely hard for the spring,” said junior pitcher/infielder Matt Lemeiux on all that baseball work possibly not paying off. It is true. Spring athletes who only play one sport have been working towards this season since last June, and due to the current situation, it is uncertain that they will ever have a chance to suit up this year.
The class of 2020 is suffering because they are uncertain if they will ever get to wear the Jefferson Falcons uniform again.
“It really sucks thinking that the last time I did suit up for Jefferson wasn’t just my last time for football, but for my high school career,” said senior Jefferson Felter. Felter was a starter for the football team and when that season concluded back in November, Felter quickly got to work on his lacrosse game; however, he now may not get to show all of that hard work.
“It is very upsetting knowing that I may not be able to get to play with the girls who I’ve played with since the beginning,” said senior lacrosse player Christina Torsiello.
The worst of all of the situation is the uncertainty. These seniors, as well as many others, wake up daily not knowing if they’ll be able to wear blue and gold with Jefferson across the chest ever again.
There is a Good Side
While the senior class can have their prom and senior events in jeopardy, underclassmen have much less to lose during this unique experience. “I have been getting my work done in the morning which allows me to have the rest of the day to myself which is great,” said sophomore student-athlete Nate Do. For students who can create their own structure, like Do the new ways of learning can come very easily.
“It is a good time to catch up on sleep and other personal things,” said senior student Kayla Gitter. As the honor roll senior Gitter and many other students can agree on, the increase in sleep can be very helpful for students, especially student athletes and other students involved in extracurricular activities.
While this positive seems popular, most students would still agree they would rather be attending school and having their normal life, than the current situation.
The coronavirus is changing high school. The new program implemented by JTHS as well as the rest of the district, has both its negatives and positives. Personally, I would much rather be in school associating with my friends and having a more structured life. But for now, we have to wait and stay safe.
Until then, stay home. Stay healthy. Stay safe. The more you go out, the more you endanger the remainder of the school year, high school sports, and most of all other people’s lives.