Three years ago, our lives were abruptly interrupted by Covid-19 and the sudden isolation that followed. We were coerced to stay locked in our houses, but were expected to continue learning through Zoom and online courses. During this period, without in person learning, students were lacking in their attention span, social skills and the mere motivation to learn.
In my experience, during zoom classes, I would find myself tempted by multiple distractions while the teachers were talking. With my phone directly next to me, it would be impossible for me to focus. Not only was this a disturbance, but the noises in my house certainly did not make paying attention any easier. The constant bustle of my family drowned out my teachers’ voices until I could not make out a word. With this excuse to not listen, I found myself zoning out, and my grades eventually became a reflection of this.
Evidently, I was not the only one who experienced this. According to The Dispatch, at Lexington Middle School, 80 percent of students failed a class in the first nine weeks. This is a huge jump from 37 percent from the same period the previous year. The grades of students across the country were negatively affected by the Covid outbreak.
With students being forced to isolate inside their homes, their social interactions seriously declined, and eventually, so did their social skills. A lot of what students get out of school is not strictly academic. The connections built with teachers and friends is a significant part of attending school everyday.
You learn how to grow and maintain relationships, how to talk to people, and how to hold a steady conversation. Deprived of these everyday interactions, students were extremely unprepared when they returned back to school several months later.
The New York Times interviewed a student from Norfolk, Virginia to speak on their experience with online learning. Owen Midgette responded, “For me, I loved getting to see my friends everyday in the school environment. Now that it’s taken away from me, I realize now that school was my main source of communicating with people. Now I feel as though I’m losing friendships I had at school since we can’t go anymore.”
This student was not alone in his situation. The isolation took a toll on many students across the country, fearful of losing their social lives.
Despite the best efforts of teachers online, a large majority of students began to lack the motivation to engage in their classes, no longer taking them seriously. Looking at a computer screen all day held no comparison to participating in hands-on activities in school, which students truly did enjoy. No one felt like doing their work, and many found themselves falling dangerously behind in their classes. The idea of logging on to zoom everyday became a chore, and returning back to school, a dream.
As most schools are now back to normal, I am realizing how truly detrimental online learning was to my classmates and I. We felt more alone than we ever had before, and our education declined. I am appreciative of school, now more than ever, for the opportunity to receive in person instruction and to communicate with my classmates freely, with no computer screen between us.