Challenges, changes in Distance Learning

Charlyn Joy Marcos, Reporter

It’s 2020 in the middle of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and people in Hawaii are either quarantined in their homes, or beeline to their workplaces trying to assist their communities in any way they can. In what people call the “new normal,” everyone is being affected by COVID-19. With this “new normal,” everything has been altering before people’s eyes and it’s doing so day by day all thanks to the new virus. 

James Campbell High School (JCHS) changed how things are being done on their campus. According to the JCHS Re-Opening Packet sent to students and parents in a PDF formate, there have been several changes with how classes are being done. According to the document, “Students will be grouped by their last names into four different groups and rotate with some groups on campus while others are receiving online instruction.” Even though the plan was set to offset the on campus population, during the first term/quarter of school, most students remained at home with only a select group of students attending school face-to-face.

Ashley Tanaka, the school’s health assistant has been taking care of students at the school. During this time of the pandemic, it’s crucial for students and staff to stay safe. Procedures in the health room have changed throughout this pandemic. Tanaka said, “For the most part, the biggest change would be that ‘Everyone’ All Staff, Administration, Teachers, Students, Cafeteria staff, Security, Custodians, Visitors and Vendors must complete a Daily Wellness Check. If it is not done before you enter campus, you will not be able to access your classroom or office.”

Not only does the course of action change when people enter the campus, but they do in the classroom, too. Tanaka said, “Upon entering your classroom you must show your teacher confirmation of your response. This will help with students and staff who may be showing any symptoms and feeling sick to ‘STAY HOME’.” 

With most students online, both students and teachers are on their computers everyday. Running classes online is different from teaching class in person.

Katrina Pasion, a 9th grade English Lab and English I teacher at JCHS, is one of these teachers to run these online classes. Teaching classes online and teaching classes in person is very different and challenges can be encountered with teaching online. “I have to rethink lessons and how to deliver them effectively online, while keeping in mind the technology or lack of technology available to all the students in my class,” said Pasion.

Loneliness is one of those difficulties that affect teachers while teaching classes online. Pasion said, “When I was teaching from my empty classroom, it was very lonely. I hated being in the classroom without my students and away from my own children.”  Teachers at JCHS were able to apply to telework. She said, “Being able to telework, work from home, has definitely helped combat the loneliness.”

Though the format is different, Pasion said, “Difficulties are the same as in person school, just presented in a different way. Like students not paying attention in class is like the student’s wifi dropping out – I still need to repeat instructions. Also, it’s harder to meet with students one-on-one because I can’t keep them after class or even after school.” Even with all the difficulties others may face, there are some positive effects that come with teaching online. Pasion said, “Teaching online has its positives. Technology has allowed me to connect with students in different ways, especially the students that are normally quiet and shy in class, they have been communicating through text and emails.”

Besides the changes in how school staff deal with their everyday lives, there have been physical changes made to the campus of JCHS. Tanaka said, “More changes in and on campus you may find little footprints or slipper prints on the side walks in the main office. Those are for where you should stand for social distancing. Also painted blue/yellow lines in hallways and stairs to separate walking in opposite directions.” 

Aside from the physical changes, mental changes have also taken place. Pasion, “Face to face education will never be the same as it was. Teachers and students will value the in person classes and their relationships more than they did pre-COVID. I think technology will be better integrated in schools and at home; families have learned the importance of having reliable technology at home.”