Irvine Unified School District schools have transitioned to hybrid learning. For the first time in six months, students finally returned to the halls of the various campuses across Irvine.
To say the least, it was an experience.
My teachers sounded stressed. I was stressed. The first few days were not a particularly positive experience.
There seems to be no conceivable way to properly combine the students at home and at school. For example, when my teacher sought to encourage us to discuss during class, it was difficult because the teacher’s webcam mic was very weak and could not pick up discussion across the room, nor could we unmute ourselves on the Chromebooks because feedback made it hard to hear and understand.
Even without classroom discussion, the pressure was on for teachers. There were many issues with Zoom during the first day — some of my friends were booted from Zoom calls or calls would crash mysteriously. Some of my teachers had trouble teaching both — when we were all at home, he could just use the Zoom whiteboard option. As we returned to school, it became difficult to keep both students at school, who weren’t on Zoom, and his “Zoomers” engaged simultaneously.
Beyond the technology issues that occurred, it also became apparent that teachers had to face an increasing workload, which placed undue stress on them. In order to avoid the hassle of students in two locations, my physics teacher prerecorded a lecture for us to watch while she taught her live students…live. The amount of actual teaching time has drastically decreased.
Not only this, but schools are also a breeding ground for potential new COVID cases. Even with the emphasis on social distancing, high school students piled around in clusters, facing each other, laughing, talking, and touching. If high school students cannot even keep up with the physical distancing guidelines, it’s terrifying to think what elementary or middle school students may face while returning to their schools.
So far, the return to the “new normal” has not been a great experience. As Orange County continues to float in the red range, perhaps it is better for IUSD to reconsider the opening of schools. Although teachers will definitely get better at working with live and digital students at the same time, it’s not worth the hassle, danger, and confusion that we’ve faced already.