Homework, siblings, work, sports and extracurriculars. While this list of high school student responsibilities does not seem much different from past non-pandemic years, most of these activities this year are being done at home between other distractions, so online classes can become overwhelming for students.
“I don’t get the privacy or the time to do everything, and it gets hard because stuff starts to build up. You can’t really catch up as quickly as you want to,” senior Illandria Ellison said.
High schoolers who share space with siblings and other family members may find it difficult to delegate to different parts of the house for Zoom classes to limit distractions.
“The major issue in the beginning of the school year was finding out where everybody would be,” junior Hadiza Sarr said. “We wanted to be spread out because we didn’t want all of us to be learning in the same place. So we had to figure out our territories.”
While this year’s school day contains 240 minutes of instructional time per day, compared to the previous year’s 350 minutes of instruction time, the shortened day means many teachers are assigning more homework, creating some conflicts with other after school activities.
“It’s been really hard this year trying to squeeze in a full year of learning in just one semester when we have less time in school than normal. Teachers have to give much more work outside of school to be able to keep the class moving quickly enough and it’s been overwhelming at times. Especially since I do sports and have extra curricular activities and for other students who are taking care of family members, there isn’t much time for relaxing,” sophomore Jane Michael said.
Students also worry about learning all of their class content with the shortened schedule, including Fridays where no synchronous class sessions are held. Last year each class had 230 mins a week for the whole school year, but after the adjustments, this fall’s classes get 240 minutes a week for 15 weeks.
“In the beginning we were supposed to have 90 days of school per semester, and 90 minutes of each class. So they cut those 90 days of 90 minute classes to 60 days 60 minutes. so we went to two thirds of what we’re supposed to have. So why don’t we get Fridays?” Sarr said.
Since more interactive classes have changed dramatically, students are realizing how much it affects others near them.
“(My sister) has band while I’m in chemistry so I can hear her playing, it’s not too distracting though I can kind of zone it out. And then obviously, she’ll hear, (my brother) and I playing at the end of the day,” Michael said.
Additionally students are having trouble finding time for social interaction, which hasn’t been helped by the time commitment of online school.
“On Fridays, I’ll do my internship in the morning. And then my second internship and then I’ll go to work at night. On Saturdays, I go to work, and then on Sundays, I go to my internship. So I don’t have much of a social life, as in going out with my friends and stuff,” Sarr said.
Additionally, students have had trouble balancing extracurricular activities with their busy schedules.
“(This year) I couldn’t play softball because of my internships, and my job at Kroger,” Sarr said. “I felt like my internships and working were more important. It was a really hard decision to cut off something that helped me get really active and socialize with others, but I felt like this year I needed to be really productive.”
While this year is turning out to be a lot of work, many students just have one main goal: survival.
“My biggest goal really is just to pass. It’s so hard to keep up with all the stuff that I have to do, so I really want to keep my grades up and pass,” Ellison said.