The pandemic caused all school districts to learn and teach virtually to lessen the spread of COVID-19. After attending school virtually for the end of last school year and the beginning of this school year, students and teachers wanted to go back in person because of the difficulty of teaching and learning online. On November 7, 2020 Cobb County schools gave the staff and students the choice of returning to the building or remaining virtual as health guidelines allowed schools to reopen. At first, most students still chose to remain virtual while others came back to face to face.
Teaching during the pandemic presented the teachers with a multitude of challenges. COVID-19 forced them to learn how to teach both online and in-person at the same time, a pattern that continues into the second semester.
“When I was virtual I had multiple distractions at home like siblings keeping me from not doing my work so being face to face contains numerous pluses,” said junior Tyison Brooks.
Simple things such as taking attendance and grading work became harder. A number of students at times could not make it onto the Zoom meeting to get marked present, so they ended up getting marked absent or tardy to class. Grading work also became difficult since the work appeared both on paper and online. When virtual, children of teachers need help with online school, which made it hard for them to teach their own students. This started to cause problems for the students that took those teacher’s classes.
Since most of the staff returned to the building, these problems declined. Several teachers at North Cobb enjoy face to face better than virtual while others prefer virtual for various reasons.
“I enjoy being face to face much more because I like seeing my students’ faces and having the interaction with all of them,” NC chemistry teacher Tricia Stier said.
Students also undergo challenges with online school during the pandemic. The new system lacked constant reminders from teachers to complete work, so they frequently procrastinated and lost points on late assignments. Similar to teachers with children at home, numerous students live with siblings that need to help log into their devices for online school or help with doing online school work while their parents attend a normal work day. This also made it hard for various students to finish their work and turn it in completely, which caused the students’ grades to fall a tremendous amount. Now that the students returned back to the building, they do not need to deal with these issues. Students feel more confident in their ability to learn since they returned to in-person school.
“Being face to face helps me not procrastinate as much as I did when I was virtual since I get the papers here and have class time to do the assignments,” said junior Josnell Cruz.
But, returning face to face also presented multiple struggles. Things such as having to wear a mask while staying socially distanced plays a huge role as one of the difficulties. After a couple days of in person school, a large number of people became quarantined because of exposure of COVID-19. Certain students reconsidered their decision after attending in-person school, deciding to return virtual. Now, NC continues to maintain their COVID precautions. Even though several unfortunate events occurred last year and still continue to, NC deals with the problems in a smart and safe way, letting the students get back into a normal schedule, so things can return to close to normal after everything that happened over the past year. Going back in person helped and still helps students and staff enjoy their educational experience more.