NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Pandemic School: Learning during COVID

Coronavirus has drastically changed the ways schools have been running. Throughout Haverhill and surrounding areas, schools are all going about opening in a very different way.

Three students, Violette Smith, Hannah Grace, and Sydney Wolbach all attend different schools in the area and give us some insight into what it is like to be a student during a global pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic has been raging for over 7 months and has shown no sign of stopping. It has infected close to 40 million people and killed over 1 million. Schools officially shut down across the nation in March. Everyone was unsure of how long they would be closed.

Violette Smith, an early college student at Northern Essex Community College, remembers the day the college closed down in March.

“It was like a few days before we were scheduled to go on spring break. I was in history class and everybody got an alert on their phones saying that someone at NECC tested positive and in person classes were canceled. I remember we all were freaking out. Our professor just sort of said alright, bye guys and we all just booked it out of class. There were just students all waiting to get picked up or to get on the bus and everyone was really confused. But, it was kind of all in a lighthearted joking manner. I don’t think any of us knew how long we would be out of school for.”

But, fairly quickly Smith and other students at NECC realized they weren’t going to be back anytime soon. Pretty soon the school was closed down for the rest of the semester and classes were to be continued completely online.

“The teachers took about a week to transition to online learning,” Smith recalled on starting remote learning, “Overall, it was a pretty smooth transition. I still got a lot from all of my classes and I think my teachers handled the quick switch great. I do remember though at the start of the summer classes it was still up in the air whether we’d be doing live classes or not, which looking back is pretty funny because obviously we’re still all remote. But, I think that’s a good choice. I think that’s definitely what’s safest and that’s the most important. And personally, I’ve been doing fine with remote learning. As long as I keep managing my time and keep up with the workload, I’ll be pretty successful. ”

Not all schools in the area chose to start off this school year as fully remote. Pentucket High School, a nearby public school in West Newbury offered either full remote or a hybrid option. However, they have just announced that they are going to move to only full remote after a few students came down with the virus. Hannah Grace, a junior at Pentucket, has been doing full remote since the start of the school and shared how the school year has been going so far.

“I think for me remote learning works pretty good, which is why I chose the full remote option, that and it’s obviously safer then the hybrid, which they aren’t doing anymore anyway,” she said. “I honestly thrive in an independent learning situation, where I have more freedom, so I think that online learning works pretty well for me. It can be a little challenging to communicate with teachers.”

However, Grace says that, while all remote works well for her, she can see why it might not work for other students at Pentucket and in general.

“I do work well when I am essentially left in charge of everything with minimal outside support. But, I do know that most kids don’t work that way, so I can imagine that lack of teacher support and live interaction could be really hard from a lot of schools.”

Most private schools in the area have chosen to go with a hybrid model. Penguin Hall, a private high school in Wenham, has a hybrid model that consists of one week live, one week remote. A junior at said school, Sydney Wolbach, gave her opinions on this school year.

“Personally I think that my school did a very good job of handling it. I think it was great that we were able to open and still all be safe,” she said. ” I definitely prefer the weeks when we are doing live learning. Remote learning is just very challenging for me. It’s hard for me to retain information and harder to keep concentrated and to keep a motivational schedule.”

Wolbach does struggle with remote learning, but she understands it’s necessity. She said, “I do wish we could go back to full live learning soon, but we’re in a global pandemic right now and the number one priority is keeping safe. But, I do think that my school is doing a pretty phenomenal job overall.”

Smith, Grace and Wolbach all agree on the importance of safety during schooling. Remote learning is very new for both students and teachers and brings many new challenges.

Smith put it nicely, “We all are very unsure right now, especially us students. But, it’s very important for us to keep up with our education, even if it is not in person, because our safety is also very important.”