Last week, numerous students were anxious about returning to school in-person. Social interaction felt unfamiliar because they were in isolation, unable to interact with their friends, classmates, and teachers for months. Students wouldn’t be able to sit next to friends during lunch, mingle freely in the hallway, or simply be unmasked and enjoy socializing with peers.
Luckily, students were surprised to discover that hybrid learning was a relief compared to virtual education. The change of pace provided a welcome variation to an otherwise monotonous school week. Several students described feeling much more involved in class. One student remarked, “[In-person school] has really made a difference with my engagement in learning.”
Hybrid learning also improved communication between students and teachers. Sometimes, asking questions was difficult because of technology mishaps or the uncomfortable feeling of a virtual setting. Asking the calculus teacher to explain number twelve from last night’s homework is much easier and comfortable in-person than it is online. “I’ve enjoyed how much easier it is to learn in person. I get to ask my teachers more questions, which is how I learn best,” explained one student.
Many reported that hybrid learning benefited their mental health. High school is a time when teens grow and learn primarily through socialization; being deprived of those interactions removes all of the fun parts of school. One freshman exclaimed, “I was so excited to meet all my friends and teachers in person!” Another student commented, “Even though in-person school has only gone on for a few days, social interaction with others has already had a positive effect on my well-being!”
Returning to in-person school felt daunting to many students and teachers because of the COVID-19 restrictions in place. However, hybrid learning exceeded their expectations because they were more involved in class, and their communication with peers and mental health improved. One ninth-grader summed up her positive hybrid learning experience by saying, “I love seeing and interacting with people I don’t usually talk to on a daily basis. Even if it’s just someone pointing me in the right direction, I can still sense the smile behind their mask!”
— Vienna Gurev