Due to the pandemic, high school students in New Brunswick are experiencing an alternate delivery method that includes a combination of online and in-person learning, which has had a varying effect on their grades, work ethic, and social life.
Micheline Desaulniers, a Grade 11 student at École Sainte-Anne, attends in-person classes every second day and has found herself thriving in her new learning environment.
She credits her success to the extra time that she has on her “off days” when she is not attending in-person classes, which allows her to finish her schoolwork during the day and have time to relax at night.
“Even though not going to school half of the time may not sound like the most educationally correct option, I’ve been enjoying my off days,” Desaulniers explained. “I find not having to do homework at night decreases my stress by a lot, and that really helps my mental health.”
Desaulniers explained that, while she is receiving good marks, that is not the universal experience of her classmates. She believes that, like students, some teachers are struggling to adjust to online learning, resulting in an increase in assignments and homework.
“I understand that it's hard to know how to operate your classes when you only see them three times a week, but it’s a known fact right now that my grade’s average is very low,” Desaulniers said.
She feels that teachers are compensating for fewer classes by increasing the amount of work being assigned, and expressed concern about the high expectations that teachers have for students who are experiencing an entirely new learning model.
“[Teachers] really pile on the homework and projects,” Desaulniers said. “It seems really extreme this year. Even though we have a full day to work, everything takes much more time than you would think.”
While online learning has not been all positive, Desaulniers explained that she is enjoying the sense of community that has been created in the online learning environment, expressing gratitude to her teachers for their positive attitudes.
“I find that our teachers are making an effort to keep a good attitude and make school as enjoyable as possible,” she explained, saying that she really enjoys her online classes. “My classes with Zoom calls move much faster, and learning new material everyday makes those classes seem normal again.”
Alex Greer, a Grade 12 student at Leo Hayes, has seen his grades rise significantly this year but struggles with the lack of social interaction associated with online learning.
“It's definitely affecting my school this year, like, socially, because I can’t see half of my friends that don't have the same school days as me,” Greer explained. “We're split into two groups by last name and, being a social person like I am, that really sucks.”
The pandemic has not affected Greer’s plans on applying to secondary school this year, and he has been accepted to Moncton’s Oulton College for the fall.
“I would still attend [secondary] school if it was online because I just want to get it done so I can work,” Greer explained, eager to begin his studies.
Jack LeBlanc, a Grade 11 student at Leo Hayes, has been feeling a decrease in motivation when it comes to completing schoolwork, and has found himself procrastinating more than before the pandemic.
Unlike Desaulnier, he feels that teachers are doing well in terms of how much work they are assigning, but he feels a disconnect in online lectures.
“Teachers could definitely do better with the at-home learning part of school. The lessons online can be a bit difficult to understand and unclear,” LeBlanc said.
There is hope that learning will return to traditional methods in the fall, but, until further notice, high school students will continue learning in an alternate delivery method.