How Are Students and Teachers Dealing with Hybrid Learning?


Thomas Krukar, Editor-in-Chief

As more students at DeMatha test positive for Covid-19 and face a period of quarantine, DeMatha has adjusted their rules to accommodate those who are out of school with the virus. In the beginning of the year, the school’s administration was adamant that a student who tested positive for Covid-19 would face at minimum a 10-day period of isolation before being allowed to return to school. DeMatha was clear that no virtual learning option would be available, even for those students who had to quarantine with the virus. Instead, teachers would communicate with students who tested positive through email or Google Classroom to help them keep up with material and not get too far behind in class.

But following the rise in Covid-19 cases, the administration at DeMatha has decided to make some changes to their policy regarding how long a student needs to quarantine and the options for virtual learning if a student tests positive. DeMatha now says that a student can return to school after a 5-day quarantine period if they are not exhibiting symptoms of the virus, a change in policy that follows new CDC guidelines. DeMatha has also made a change concerning the option for virtual learning, now allowing students who test positive to sign on to class virtually to ensure that they do not miss work and class time. These alterations to the school’s Covid-19 policy have been instituted in the last several weeks, as the number of positive cases has grown, and students are forced to quarantine at home.

Senior Josh Young thinks that the school is doing a good job of accommodating those who test positive by allowing quarantined students to still be present in class, albeit virtually. Josh doesn’t believe that the new policy has affected the learning environment at all for those present in the classroom. “The classroom environment is still the same for those learning in-person even when some students are virtual.”

Josh did admit that it feels like students who are virtual are isolated from class discussions and dialogue that they would participate in if they were in-person. “In a way, I feel a little bit bad for the students who have to go virtual because of a positive test, because it’s hard for them to really participate in class dialogue.”

But overall, Josh thinks that the administration is doing everything they can to make the best out of a difficult situation. “There’s no perfect way to handle positive Covid-19 tests and students having to quarantine, but I believe that the school’s policy is the best route to take because it ensures that quarantined students don’t miss too much class time,” Josh said.

Senior Devin Neptune believes that the policy the school instituted at the beginning of the year worked best for students and teachers. “I think that working asynchronously best suits those students out with Covid, and also the teachers who are forced to balance students being both virtual and in-person,” Devin says.

Devin admitted that it is difficult not only on the teachers, but also on the students who are forced to learn virtually while everyone else is in the classroom. “I feel like students online are being isolated from class conversations, which makes it hard for them to keep their focus and attention on what is going on in class.”

Devin himself contracted the virus back in September, when the old Covid policy and quarantine rules were in place. From his own experience, Devin feels being able to do his work on his own time, or learning asynchronously, is what best suited him while he had the virus. “A lot of kids feel pretty sick while they have Covid and being able to do their work on their own terms means they don’t have to sit through class virtually while feeling sick.”

Devin said from his experience it was not very difficult to get caught up with the work that he missed, as he was in constant communication with his teacher’s while being quarantined and made sure to ask teachers about anything he missed once back at school.

While acknowledging that the situation is difficult and hard to solve, Devin feels that the new policy is a step in the wrong direction. “I understand that the school is trying to limit the amount of class time students miss while having Covid, but I think having only a few students online hurts the learning environment for everyone involved.”

Senior Justin Muraya was one of a number of students who tested positive for Covid-19 after the school returned from winter break. Justin did not feel that being virtual affected his ability to learn, saying, “Virtual learning probably improved my learning capacity because it allowed me to sleep in more and eliminated stress about the commute to and from school.”

Justin expressed satisfaction with the job his teachers did while he was quarantined with the virus, saying that they accommodated him and others who were online to make them feel like they were still part of the class. “My teachers were exemplary during my brief online learning experience,” Justin said.

Even though his online learning experience went well while he was quarantined, Justin feels that it’s about time that Americans stop putting so much emphasis on the virus. “I know it sounds cruel but the vast majority of people who contract the omicron variant have mild symptoms, even those who are unvaccinated, so I think ultimately we just have to move forward with our lives without worrying so much about the virus.”

Math teacher Mr. Gang was in agreement with many others that the school’s new policy makes the best out of a difficult and uncertain situation. “I think I am better prepared for dealing with virtual students because we were virtual last year,” Mr. Gang said.

Although he admitted that students online may feel a bit isolated or bored because of their lack of interaction with the class, Mr. Gang would agree that this new policy of having quarantined students in class virtually is better than sending them work through email while they miss class.

Mr. Gang does not feel like the learning atmosphere has been negatively impacted by students signing on to class virtually, saying teachers are well-equipped to handle the challenge. “Teachers had to balance students in-person while still having students virtual during hybrid learning last year, so I think this new adjustment has been pretty easy for us teachers.”

It seems that pretty much everyone is in agreement that DeMatha is doing their best to make the most out of an unfortunate situation, although teachers and students may disagree on how effective the school’s new policy is for students who have to quarantine because of a positive test. However effective or efficient the administration’s new policy is, the entire DeMatha community, and really the entire world, can agree that they can’t wait for the day when we no longer have to worry about Covid-19.