By Beniamino Nardin, Harwood correspondent
Two months have passed since Harwood Union High School recommenced full-time in-person learning after a hybrid model last year. Most of the 2020-2021 school year was spent with a split student body: Students with a last name beginning with A to L went to school on Monday and Tuesday, and students with a last name beginning with M to Z attended school on Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays were devoted to extended learning opportunities (ELOs) at home on Zoom, where students could catch up on work and receive help.
“I think that in-person school has been a lot better,” said Caelyn McDonough, a Harwood senior. “It feels a lot more like real school, obviously. I liked [hybrid learning] because I could go skiing a lot, but I didn’t like how it felt like it wasn’t a real class,” she said. “We just didn’t see people every day. It felt pretty lonely. I felt like I didn’t really get to know people last year.”
Other students felt differently about the hybrid model. “Personally, I feel like online school gave students more time to complete schoolwork,” said a Harwood sophomore. “It was less stressful for me. I think in-person school can be beneficial to a lot of students. However, there are some people, like me, who felt a lot more comfortable with online school.”
Other students agree with the benefits to hybrid learning. “My favorite thing about [it] was that I could sleep in,” said a student. Since learning for students at home was asynchronous, they could begin work at their discretion. In the afternoon, they would leave home to attend athletics, the only place where they would encounter the other block of students who attended school on separate days.
“I think it would be really hard” to learn remotely full-time, said a student. The last few months of the 2019-2020 school year, where Harwood was fully online, “felt really disconnected, and we didn’t really learn a lot when we’re online.”
During online learning, “I was teaching myself most of my classwork, especially math,” said a Harwood freshman. “It worked out fine because I can teach myself math. Other students I guarantee did not understand what they were doing. So, it just had people behind what they were supposed to be on.”
Being in-person five days a week did take some getting used to. “It’s been a little difficult because of the whole mask thing,” said a student.
The benefits to being back in-person, however, are crucial to students’ social well-being and happiness. “Being [back] in band is really fun, and also actually being able to see friends,” said a student, “because [last year] with the whole A to L thing it was just kind of hard to see friends.” Attending school full-time allows students to engage with their peers, develop social skills absent from online learning, participate in classes and more easily interact with teachers, students reported.
Generally, students are grateful to be back in school, in-person, full-time. “I think we’ve been learning a lot, and I’ve been getting to see my friends every day, so that’s been great,” said McDonough.