Image Credit: All photos supplied by Rachel Johnson

What It’s Like to Learn in a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on all of us, including students. Let me share my perspective and experience with online learning and in-person learning.

Online Learning

I started online learning in March 2020. The first day of online learning it snowed, and my brother and I built a snowman. Every Friday we would call our family on Zoom. We used Zoom a lot to stay connected to friends and family, and my brother and I listened to our lessons through Zoom too.

While online learning was a safer learning method during the pandemic, it presented its own challenges.

Online learning was definitely harder for students who found it hard to self-motivate. I found it hard because I couldn’t have one-on-one time with my teachers, and I found it difficult to talk to my friends and collaborate with them. On the other hand, online learning allowed for a much more flexible
schedule. I could work in my own time and turn in assignments with plenty of time to spare.

Rylee Johnson

I liked online learning, but I found it harder to understand the concepts being taught virtually. There were also a lot more distractions, especially since my brother’s desk was right by mine and it was hard to concentrate on my schoolwork when he was on calls at the same time. I also noticed that there was much less participation in the online classes.

Most of my classmates barely spoke the whole time, let alone answer questions. It’s also hard to learn virtually if you have inadequate WiFi. Learning online is much more difficult if you don’t have the supplies you need.


In-Person Learning

I returned to in-person learning at the end of 2020. We wore masks in class for that entire school year and half of the next.

Despite the higher risk of getting COVID, in-person learning was preferred by a lot of my classmates, mostly because they got to see their friends again.

Rylee Johnson

In the winter of 2020-2021, I stayed home and did online-learning for a couple of months due to flu season. I realized that it was a bigger deal when someone got sick during the pandemic, because there was always a chance it could be COVID.

When I first returned to school, they took our temperatures every morning and asked us questions such as, “Do you have a fever?” “Do you have a sore throat?” In short, they listed all the symptoms of the virus and asked us if we had any of them.

We were also required to stay home for seventy-two hours if we had any symptoms. This was hard because if we just had a small cold, we were required to stay home for three days.

I also noticed that some of my classmates had trouble with keeping their masks on during school hours. It’s understandable that no kid wants to wear a mask for six hours, but most of us understood that it kept us safe.

Another thing that had changed were the desks. They were all six feet apart, and instead of shared computers, we each used a Chromebook.

The gym equipment was also sanitized after it was used. We also stopped eating lunch in the cafeteria and instead ate in our separate classrooms.

It was different, but it soon became the “new normal” for my school. We all adjusted quickly.

I liked in-person learning because it allowed me to communicate with my teachers better and I understood the lessons better when they were taught in-person. There were also less distractions and I found it easier to concentrate.

Rylee Johnson

Some students liked and excelled with hybrid learning, where they rotated through in-person and online learning days throughout the school week.

Learning Experiences

I can’t quite say for sure which method of learning is better. For me, I liked online learning, but I had better grades learning in-person.

But different students have different perspectives on learning online vs. in-person. For some of my classmates, they found that online learning yielded better grades. For others, it was easier to learn in-person.

In conclusion, there were plenty of differences between learning online and in-person. Students had different experiences with both types of learning, and some had used hybrid learning as well. One thing we all know is that learning during the pandemic brought about changes in the way we learn and are taught.

Featured in: July/August 2022