An Unprecedented Change

     In March, what started off as a two week break resulted in the drastic transition of physical learning to online learning. No one was prepared for the cancellation of in person school back in March, which led to a trial and error with the schedule and distance learning. Classes were in a rotation of three periods a day, except for Wednesdays when students took the time to finish any work or take the time for social emotional learning. This schedule was consistent through the last two months of school. 

     With more preparation and experience, this school year has been more organized and experimental. The most noticeable change to the new schedule is the division of classes taken. The first half of the school year is divided by two semesters where students have periods 1,3 , and 5. The schedule consists of four synchronous days (Tuesday-Friday) and one asynchronous day (Monday) with a 15 minute break in between every class. Asynchronous Mondays give students the whole day to complete any given assignments in order to be marked as present for each class. 

     This new schedule also introduced an extra period after the 5th period called advisory. This 30 minute period allows students and teachers to discuss their day or any topic given during the period through slideshows. This is the only period students have every school day whether it’s asynchronous or not. 

     Any change in online school comes with its positives and negatives despite the measures taken in preparation. A positive aspect of distance learning is not having to get ready and be in school on time. Moises Ochoa, a freshman, says, “Something I like about online school is staying home. It’s less stressful getting ready and being at school in time.” Not having to be at school physically makes for less tardies and stress from both teachers and students. Instead, both can have more time to do anything needed or could have those extra minutes for much needed rest. 

     Another positive for online learning is the accessibility of teachers. Senior Nayseth Perez said, “They are willing to schedule individual meetings to help us. They’re more accessible rather than going to tutorial and having to wait for them to be available.” Sophomore Alan Hernandez agreed, “I can schedule a meet and have a conversation with them about any questions or to just talk, instead of tutorials where they could talk to multiple people and not answer your questions quickly enough.” Teachers now have daily office hours where students can schedule individual meetings with any of their teachers making it more convenient than regular tutorials. When it comes to tardies, math teacher Mr. Golub says, “I have very few tardies. Students can make it to period 1 relatively easily since they don’t have to walk a half-mile to school, or drop off younger siblings at their schools. In-person period 1 tardies at Alisal has been a problem for like… forever.” 

     Unfortunately, not being at school brings another issue, the lack of student interaction. Hernandez said something he dislikes about online school is the absence of interaction with students, “I miss talking to my friends and classmates during class.” Senior Jessica Barajas feels the same way, “I dislike the fact that I don’t get to see my friends in class anymore.” Most students are less likely to turn on their microphone or camera now that the entire class is under one call, meaning it’s hard to meet new classmates. Barrajas also questions the usefulness of the Advisory class, “If I could change one thing about the schedule, it would be to completely get rid of Advisory… we don’t even get graded, so like I see no point in doing the activities.” During Advisory, students watch announcements that are shown every Monday, Thursday, and Friday. Advisory is commonly accompanied by a slideshow provided by the school and the Trojan Yell competition was shown on Fridays. The class, like Barrajas mentioned, is not graded leading to Barrajas being unmotivated to complete the activities given.

     Probably one of the biggest and common issues with online learning is technology problems. This is the one problem that cannot fully be solved mainly because of internet problems. Freshman Cesar Gonzales said, “I don’t like it when I have computer problems or connection issues with my Wi-Fi… sometimes the computer lags or freezes during class so basically it’s mainly internet problems.” English teacher Ms. Frankel agrees, “Sadly, too many of my students have connectivity issues, and they are missing class (or parts of class) due to no fault of their own. I record classes so students can request a copy if they missed a session.”

      Thankfully students have 15 minutes to log in to class as soon as it starts in order to be marked as present and on time. Along with this, the school district offers school busses around the city to provide free Wi-Fi access to students if needed. Students are also able to get hot spots from school which allows them to have internet connection at home. If students have any problems, the school and district have plenty of resources and options available on their websites for possible solutions.