Community wrestles with hybrid/virtual education


Mr. Benjamin Merithew

ADAPTING. Head Principal Mr. Scott Moore works at his desk on a virtual day for students. The administration, teachers and students have faced challenges with hybrid and virtual learning and continue to work on best practices to help support each other in the educational process.

Story by The Signal Staff

The 2020-2021 school year has not been like the rest. With Covid and the Hybrid/Virtual schedule, it’s been very hard and stressful for everyone involved. 

Stress dominated students, teachers, and parents when it came to the educational process of our school. Students are feeling overwhelmed at attempting to retain information during class times. The Signal staff hasn’t gone unaffected. Struggling to finish work and attend meetings has plagued our school days as well. 

From a questionnaire sent to 60 students, eight who gave feedback, all had the same feelings in common: disorder. Student feedback all mentioned feeling like the teachers aren’t giving their best effort, and the students aren’t either. Problems like not being able to focus, being disorganized or unscheduled, feeling tired and unmotivated were all occurrences students reported to be having on their virtual days. 

For hybrid learners the schedule feels like it is “damaging” our learning. One student who gave feedback reported being worried about other students with negative home situations, not only for their learning but for their safety. Other students mentioned their feelings of “plummeting” mental health. School has started to feel like a race to turn in the bare minimum before deadlines hit, even if understanding of the topic is slim. A lack of schedule during virtual days has made students lose time they could’ve had on Google Meets when they need help. 

Trying to connect all students, teachers are becoming more aware of what their classroom looks like by closely examining their assignments and activities. They are determining how to effectively keep students engaged whether they are behind a Chromebook or at a desk.  Prioritizing what topics are important to cover, teachers can identify what might be filler to a lesson or lose student attention. Calling for creativity, teachers are converting in-person activities to digital and modifying how class discussion operates. While students may miss the learning activities that are fun but not always essential, teachers are questioning how to make the most of their time to pull them into the lesson. The new learning system has allowed teachers to discover new methods of instruction and evaluate their classroom practices. 

Plans and activities that were effective before COVID-19 have to be scrapped or converted to an online format due to social distancing and at-home learning. The process is time consuming and teachers are putting pressure on themselves. Superintendent Dr. Jason Snodgrass stated in a faculty meeting Oct. 30, 2020 that 60 percent of students at the high school are failing at least one class and the district is worried about how this will affect their future. With masks and students not always present in class, it can be difficult to know if they are struggling. Unable to read their facial expression or body language, teachers are unsure if a student needs assistance or if they aren’t doing the work. Teachers miss the student interaction, especially when they have to troubleshoot during a Google Meet or students don’t show up to the call. With the lack of motivation and the concern if students are mentally well, teachers want them to know they will help. However, students must communicate and be willing to still work for their grades. While the eventual return back to school hopes to bring some normalcy for teachers, they aren’t sure how well their students’ mindsets will shift back to being in the classroom the majority of the week. After settling into a new teaching style for the semester, their classroom may have to adjust again due to the schedule change.

The Signal sent 40 parents from the Fort Osage School District a survey asking questions about the Virtual/Hybrid experience they and their child had. The parents reported that 30 of their students are currently in hybrid and 10 are in virtual. Thirty-two parents would like their kids to go Hybrid this semester and 8 parents would like their kids to go virtual this semester. Parents answered the same with wanting their children to go back to school full time. 

When asked how Hybrid/virtual school has impacted their kids 65 percent of the parents have said it’s been hard on their student’s grades, mental health and social interactions. Equally, 65 percent of the parents said it had some sort of negative impact on them as well.

The Signal Staff agrees that Administrators and everyone involved are trying to do their best with what they have during this challenging time. With new problems there are going to come mistakes, and we believe our school is working hard to make the best out of a hard situation.