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Distance learning contributes to academic hardships

by Max Mwaniki, staff writer

Ever since Maria Carrillo High School had to make a switch from on-campus learning to distance learning, there has been an increase in failing grades and absent students. The sudden switch from on-campus learning to an untested online-based learning environment has made school difficult for teachers, students, as well as school staff and administrators. 

For MCHS, since distance learning hit, there has been an increase in students with a D or a F in their classes. As of first quarter this year 21 percent of students at Maria Carrillo had a D or F.

MCHS assistant principal Amy Wiese said, “Of course I would like to see higher [grades], but all of us here in the admin we are very concerned because we know it’s not the ideal learning situation, and we understand the safety measures to be taken if we were to go into class.” First quarter last year, only 16 percent of students had a D or F. With the change in grades being apparent, the question of what should change and what is the problem seems to be closer than ever.

According to Wiese, communication is one of the main contributing factors to failing grades and overall lack of success. “Biggest thing is there is not enough talking,” Wiese said. “If a student has a concern, the first step of action is to talk with the teacher about whatever. For instance, ‘the Zoom was so long and I could not get into my next class.’ You need to talk to them about that.” Communication allows for relationships between students and teachers to be built, said Wiese, and since students are no longer on campus, there is not the same level of  interaction between people to build relationships. “It is hard to ask for interaction, and they stare blankly or don’t have a camera on. It’s hard for the teachers.” 

Some students share the same opinion. Carlos Rivas, a junior at MCHS, finds that communication and no interaction between fellow students and peers is one of the major reasons students are failing. 

“There’s no one there to pressure you or tell you this assignment or school is important,” said Rivas. Rivas compares near the end of his sophomore year to his junior year now. When students first went into distance learning in spring, there was a higher tolerance for not turning in work and showing up to classes was not necessarily required. “In those last few months, it was easy and lenient. You know, ‘don’t worry too much about turning work in, do it if you can, take time to be with your family,’ but now all that leniency is gone. Back to normal, but without the resources like before.”

MCHS’s culinary arts teacher Colleen Spiers has similar thoughts on distance learning as administrators and students. Along with communication being a major problem, Spiers said, many students struggle with time management. On campus, students have a set schedule in the form of a block period.  Now that students are forced to be home all the time without prior experience of time management, it causes students to panic and ultimately fail, according to Spiers“The key to all this is time management, and people don’t know how to use their time,” Spiers said. “I truly believe that teaching time management and getting things done is the key.”

“Given the fact that this has never happened and it’s still new for everyone, change is bound to happen,” said Rivas, and students and teachers are trying.

Said Wiese, “I would ask students to make that one effort to participate, unmute or make a private message and start communicating, take that step.”

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