Our online school experience; life is harder than it seems


The Reality Of Online and In-School Learning: Mr. Malmstrom helps his in-person and online students with their article for the Warrior Messenger website!

Naima Rowe, Author

As we were just having a normal day, news broke out that a new virus had begun. That virus was named…Coronavirus/Covid-19. We all thought we would have only 2 weeks off of school or work. Who would have thought we would miss 1 year, 3 months. Online school is a lot harder than many people think and the pandemic should have made us a lot more empathetic towards each other.

General Struggles During The Pandemic:

In the beginning, people were taking Covid a lot more seriously compared to before the vaccines were available. Other than that, there were some rules set in place that we would have to follow. For example, we had to wear masks, avoid social gatherings, and 6 feet social distance. Did I mention how hard it is to breathe in those masks? 

Many people faced struggles during the pandemic. America has lost about 20.6 million jobs since mid-march 2020. This means that there was an unemployment rate of about 14.7% of the US population. In April 2021, the unemployment rate decreased to 6.1%. Along with that struggle, many people can’t pay their bills or provide for their families. Some people even lost their homes. I don’t know what I would do if my mom lost her job and on top of that lost our home.

How The Pandemic Affects Learning:

There are millions of teachers and students in this world. We never saw this pandemic coming, and no one was prepared. This led to great struggles from students and teachers alike.  Mr. Malmstrom, 7th and 8th grade journalism and language arts teacher, said, “The majority of the difficulties have to do with the fact that we’re used to seeing students face to face. When you’re seeing people through a screen and sometimes even if the cameras are turned off, it’s very difficult to have that interaction and to understand what students need, if they understand things, or if they don’t.”

Teachers have been battling time as well as many other struggles while trying to teach during the pandemic.  Malmstrom said that usually WMS has 84 minute blocks, which has been cut down to 60 minutes.  He explained,  “Now we have 60 minutes and not just that, we’re waiting for people to sign on or come to school. We just simply don’t have as much time to go over everything. It’s probably about half the time. So we have to pick and choose what’s most important.”  

We know that many students are facing obstacles during this pandemic, but teachers are too! Mr. Malmstrom stated that sometimes teachers feel helpless  because there is only so much you can do over a screen,  You can call home, leave messages, you can try to talk to them in the meeting, but if they’re not coming to school, there’s really not much you can do besides that. ’’ He also said that it’s “incredibly frustrating” because their job as a teacher is to try to help students succeed. “The most frustrating part is when you feel like you aren’t doing your job even though it’s not necessarily your fault.’’

Last school year at WMS was very…different. No Google meets, no ZOOM, only Google Classroom. Mr. Malmstrom said that he thinks it’s way better now than last year.  He said, “It was even worse though because all I could do was call home and leave a lot of comments on Google Classroom, which was good, but I didn’t feel like it was enough. So Google Meets was definitely a big step up from that.”

Parents play a big role in online learning. They have responsibilities like making sure their child/children get up in time for school, making sure they are logging on to their class, making sure they are doing their work, and maintaining good grades. Jodie Morris is a WMS and Ross Street School Parent who feels like those responsibilities are just “impossible” with her children struggling with online education. She explained how much the pandemic has made a negative impact on all her children’s grades, “All my children were struggling at some point. I would usually try to help them with their work, but since I went to school hundreds of years ago, I couldn’t get some things back to memory.”

Distractions get the best of us sometimes. Morris said that she has caught her two youngest on Tiktok or watching TV. She stated, “I had rules for them and they faded away later into the school year.” Everyone needs motivation sometimes in order to push themselves to achieve something. Morris says that her children had enough motivation, they just didn’t utilize it.

A lot of students have had some issues including myself. Online school and I are  like water and oil. Water can’t mix with oil just like I can’t concentrate and maintain my grades doing online school. Online school has affected my grades tremendously. I used to be an A and B student. Now, that all changed. (Except for the fact that my grades are getting back to normal.) The most difficult part about my online education is not being able to communicate with teachers and participate in class.  Struggling in school is something I never thought would happen to me. My mom was really disappointed because my grades were dropping. I had Honor Roll from 4th grade to 6th and because of my grades and I didn’t get that for the first time in a long time. 

My mom always thinks it’s because I am on my phone. I feel like any parent would say that if their child has bad grades, especially when we are at home on a computer doing school. That’s not the case. The main reason I had the grades I did was because I just work better at school. When I am home it’s hard for me to stay focused. Sometimes I even used to get up and just walk around my house because I was just so tired of looking at my computer. 

Setting restrictions for myself  is something that I would say helped me a little bit in some classes. I used downtime so that I wouldn’t be able to go on my phone during school hours. 

Finally, technical difficulties happen to us all the time. There is no way we can really handle it besides joining back into class and letting a teacher know that’s what happened. 

What It Was Like To Have Covid-19:

Now, the main reason why we are doing online classes is because of the virus. Unfortunately, my mom and grandma caught covid over spring break in April 2021. Morris was only 5 month pregnant when she found out she had covid. She explained,  “I was very worried about how this would affect my baby but I was relieved to know that she was okay.”

She was in the hospital for 2 weeks even when my siblings and I were back to online school. She said, “I had problems with my breathing. I could not talk at all without not being able to breathe. I was struggling so much.”

Sadly, many people lost family members due to the pandemic, “After seeing and 

hearing how covid is portrayed on social media, I do feel like it’s all true. Some people don’t come home to their families. I thank god that I came back to mine.”

Morris missed her kids so much during the time she was in the hospital, “I love my kids a lot. I never imagined being away from them for this long. All I could do was cry, not being able to see them.”

Andrea Fairman, my grandmother, is a senior citizen in the United States. She said, “Covid is not a joke.” She was in the hospital for a little over 1 week, “I was worried about my grandkids because they were home by themselves. Their mom wasn’t home too, so I am just glad that they didn’t mess up the house and were able to take care of themselves.” She explained that she couldn’t walk properly when they called the ambulance on the Friday before spring break.

Think About Yourself And Others:

Many people have developed depression, anxiety, and stress during this pandemic. It’s important to take care of yourself when you’re going through hard times. When I was going through a time where I was depressed, I never talked to anyone about it. I would distance myself from my own family members and I felt like I wanted to be alone. Being locked up at home has caused a lot of distress for us. Everyone goes through different struggles and has different experiences. This world is full of even more hatred than it was before. We just have to understand each other and not be inconsiderate of what other people are going through. For example,  making jokes about covid and not taking it seriously when people are losing their lives because of it.

I hope you learned a little bit about the experiences that people had and will have more empathy for others during difficult situations.