Editorial Board: Students need more support during distance-learning

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Roger Hasting

The editorial board argues that Lincoln’s distance learning model is not supporting students. For more information on the Cardinal Times Editorial Board, visit the “about” page.

We would like to acknowledge that none of our board’s members have been severely affected by the coronavirus. We are speaking from a place of privilege but believe that our message is in the best interest of the wider Lincoln community. For more information on The Cardinal Times Editorial Board, visit our “about” page.

Online school. The bane of current students’ existence. 

The “one size fits all” model does not work for most things in life, so why should it be expected to work for distance learning? As the months drag on, online school has taken a toll on our wellbeing and mental health. 

The two essential items needed for online school success are a computer and stable Wi-Fi (emphasis on the “stable”). With entire families under the same roof all sharing the same Wi-Fi while trying to either work or learn, inconsistent Wi-Fi is a commonality. 

While Lincoln has provided 42 WiFi Hotspots and 86 Chromebooks since August 15, the quality isn’t up to par with what online school demands. While there isn’t much that the school can do regarding a student’s personal situations, it’s important they understand the different circumstances. 

Having an entire family under one roof can also draw focus away from school at the most important times. Having family members to take care of, lacking a quiet space or having to share a computer can all affect students’ ability to focus during class. Before the pandemic, many students relied on school to be a safe and distraction-free environment, something they can’t have while at home all day. 

This is a foreign situation for everyone involved. Expecting hundreds of regular students to essentially begin homeschooling is a difficult task. 

Additionally, the amount of work given is incredibly inconsistent across the board. While some teachers are treating this year like any other, and teaching complete curriculums, others have yet to even assign homework. These disparities are particularly concerning because the levels that students will be at next year will be completely scattered.

As for what the school and district can do, one step is being more transparent about the fate of in-person and online school. While there is an established plan as of late January, students, teachers, and other faculty members are still not always on the same page about distance and in-person learning. A lot of students are still holding out hope to have some semblance of an in-person school year, but is that even possible for everyone?

A key aspect of learning is the connection students form with their teachers. With a variety of other stressors on our minds, getting to know our teachers or letting them get to know us is not on the forefront of our minds. It’s difficult to ask a teacher for the help we need without having anything but a transactional relationship as the foundation.

Another challenge students face with virtual learning is connection (or lack thereof) to our peers and community. When you sit at home alone all day staring at a screen, it feels very isolating from the rest of the school. Lincoln prides itself in our sense of community, but we all feel so disconnected at a time when connection means everything to us. 

While students are still doing distance learning, we ask that administrators and teachers consider the efficacy of meetings outside of scheduled class time for students. These extra meetings should be more meaningful for students; Asking for student input before hosting additional meetings is crucial. 

Giving students time to build connections with each other and simply just talk could go miles, especially if you are new or unfamiliar with the people in your classes. We would like to emphasize the importance of connecting with students on a regular basis. 

We understand that this is a challenging time for everyone. However, we want Lincoln staff to be mindful of the issues a student may be facing beyond online education.

Lincoln’s team of counselors are available to meet and support students and families in a number of ways. The counseling team wants to emphasize that if you are having any issues or concerns, they are here to support you and students can and should reach out. 

Students can find their counselors’ information here

If you have any thoughts or comments about distance learning that you want to share, email us at [email protected] For more information about the Cardinal Times Editorial Board, visit our “About Us” page.

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