Last year, Johnston was introduced to the unknowns of hybrid and online learning, whether we liked it or not. Certain students thrived in the new amount of freedom and independence that came with learning from home. Some students found that they could only have a productive and focused learning day when in their regular school environment.
One of the many challenges teachers and students were faced with last year was a lack of accountability introduced along with the hybrid learning schedule. “I wouldn’t say that I faced any struggles because of hybrid, other than students not doing the activities that they were provided for their online days necessarily,” said Melissa Dale, an English teacher. Students were constantly changing their routines and ways of learning to fit hybrid. Due to the challenges, most students preferred in person to online. “100% in person, I’m just more of a hands on and visual learner. Just staring at a computer screen for eight hours a day wasn’t very functional with how I learn,” said Isaac Kronberg ’22. “Just being able to learn and actually understand, because again it wasn’t for me, I had some of my worst grades ever in the first semester.”
On the online side of learning, teachers and students were mainly faced with the problem of being able to connect with one another through a screen.“I feel like when they didn’t make it necessary for students to turn on their cameras, it was difficult to get to know a student if you couldn’t see them,” said Dale. “It’s hard as a teacher, when you go in and all you see is a bunch of black screens because nobody turns on their camera.” But according to Kronberg ‘22, “You never wanna be the one student with their camera on in zoom. If there were more students doing it, I totally would. But no one else did…”
The best parts about hybrid focused on the extra safety precautions that were taken. With students only being in person for half of the week, this opened up opportunities to social distance and take it one step at a time. “I feel like hybrid was kind of the best option. Because you definitely had a lot of smaller class sizes, and you could easily space yourselves out and all that kind of stuff. And you kind of had a good mix of in person and online,” said Dale, who continues to wear a mask to school to protect students and family members. Now with entering our second school year during the pandemic, we still face many safety concerns with in person. “I was discouraged that there was no mask mandate… there is far more convincing research in support of mask wearing vs. mask bans. And so that was discouraging to me as somebody who has young children, and family members that have no compromise,” said Dale.
But after all the changes that the Johnston school district has gone through, students and teachers have persevered. Now, with Johnston coming fully back in person, we can look forward to the start of sport games, full classes, and seeing friends. Many share English teacher Jeremy Fitzpatrick’s excitement for, “Just the resumption of activities, being able to go watch the kids perform in the marching band, or go to plays, or go to athletic events. And having kids be able to participate in those activities without any of those restrictions.”