PRO: Virtual learning embraces technology during a difficult time


Armitage smiles through her mask.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, students and staff approach a new challenge: attending school online this school year rather than in-person. And while the classroom might look different to most, many students have learned the positive aspects of online school through this year’s journey and are looking forward to further benefiting from it.

Government teacher Rebekah Amato finds online school rewarding to both herself and her students and even finds herself learning throughout the process..

“There were many apps on Canvas that I had been trained on, but never used, that I find myself using with virtual learning, like discussion boards and rubrics,” Amato said.

Amato emphasized her organization of lectures and lesson plans, which became more defined with virtual learning.

“Virtual learning has also forced me to record all of my lectures, which I have actually wanted to do for years, but never had the time. In August, I recorded everything for the first semester in Canvas Studio, another app I had never used,” Amato said.

As a veteran teacher, she admits that at times lecture to a computer screen can be daunting,she also finds this method highly useful since her students have the chance to look back at her lectures whenever they need to. This was not possible during in-person school.

“It also allows me to still lecture in future years if I am out and the students are with a sub, something I had never really been able to do before,” Amato said. “I feel super organized, which will make future years easier. In that regard, the pandemic forced my hand in a great way.”

Junior Swetha Poluri has noticed that her teachers have become more organized.

“The teachers this year have been very organized in their lesson plans as well as working around any problems that arise,” Poluri said, “I believe they have picked up a sense of confidence that they can teach through anything due to this pandemic.”

Students find online school most beneficial in terms of time management. The freedom of doing work at one’s pace allows students to feel less burdened.

“During school, there would be a schedule day to day that influenced when I got my work done, but virtual learning allowed me to create a timetable that suits me,” Poluri said, “Virtual learning has helped with mental health. During these tough times I have been able to set aside time for myself and continue with hobbies and topics that interest me which influences my work in a positive way.”

Junior Nate Lambert is content with virtual learning, due to his time flexibility.

“It has helped with my time management because we must budget our time to get our work done on time with all of this freedom,” Lambert said, “It is nice to have freedom to do work at our own speed, and I’ve found it helps me.”

Senior Elijah Bustamante finds online school helpful in terms of student-teacher relationships.

“At the beginning of my English class, our teacher checks in on us and gets our opinion on everything,” Bustamante said. “Teachers provide many opportunities for students to come to them for help or to just have a kind conversation about life”

Lambert appreciates the different ways in which teachers engage students with learning.

“The teachers have found new and innovative ways to teach that I hope they will continue post-Covid,” Lambert said.

Senior Morgan Armitage feels more confident speaking up in class with virtual learning.

“Virtual learning has lowered my anxiety levels as I’m not as afraid to answer questions in class,” Armitage said. “This has impacted my grades positively!”

Another advantage students gain out of virtual learning is the flexibility of leisure time.

“Being out of school for really long has also forced me to find new hobbies, so I’m learning more about myself,” Armitage said.

Online school also provides students the opportunity to finish classwork on time.

“Virtually learning has allowed me to enjoy life more as I’m able to finish more of my work during school,” Bustamante said.

Virtual learning became essential this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Chesterfield County Public Schools reopened briefly in Nov. under a hybrid system before returning to virtual school due to an increase in cases. Amato is satisfied with virtual teaching, since she experienced a difficult time with students at school during this pandemic.

“There was a lot of reminding students that the mask has to stay over their nose, they cannot remove it to talk, etc.,” Amato said, “Unfortunately, I also witnessed a lot of eye rolls and ignoring when students in the halls were asked to socially distance rather than walk in groups.”

Students emphasize the importance of staying at home until the pandemic is under control. 

“I think it is very important for us to stay away from large gatherings until we are past this, so staying home is definitely important for our health and safety,” Lambert said.

Despite the option of going back to school during the reopening, Poluri decided to stay home to protect her parents, who are more likely to suffer from the virus than her.

“I think as a community we must put our wants aside for now until we can achieve the greater good for everyone in this pandemic,” Poluri said.

Armitage noticed that teachers are more lenient with deadlines this year, allowing her to feel relaxed.

“Something I learned about myself during virtual school is that when I don’t have constant stress about deadlines, I perform better academically,” Armitage said, “Teachers are being more lenient, and I think it’s being aware that everyone is stressed right now.”

Aside from the students’ perspective, Armitage believes that teachers are being more lenient to feel less burdened as well. 

“I think teachers are giving [smaller] workloads and have easier time grading things due to less work so it’s a little stress off their shoulders,” said Armitage.

Virtual school made Poluri discover something new about herself.

“Something I learned about myself was that I was not built to be a procrastinator like I thought; in fact, I can become the student I was envious of if I just manage my time better,” Poluri said, “Which I am doing right now.” 

Virtual learning has brought out light in the darkness of this year. Several students and staff are appreciating this new normal and are thankful for everyone who made learning possible during this pandemic.

“This virtual experience made me realize how fortunate I am to be receiving the best amount of care from faculty as well as my family,” Poluri said.