News Update: Pandemic creates online public schooling system

By Ryelee Stone
Opinions Editor
Students across the nation are waking up and getting ready for school at whatever time they please, just to simply sit back down on their bed or at another comfortable spot in their own house. By just opening up a laptop or pulling out a smartphone, public school students are now taking online classes. 

The Red Lion Area High School is now providing education by having teachers assign their students 30 minutes of online work on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. This distance learning system will continue until the end of the 2019-2020 school year since Pennsylvania schools are now closed.

“At first we were hopeful that this wouldn’t last long,” head principal Mark Shue said. “What we wanted to do was avoid giving the students too much work. We are going to start with these limitations and as things progress, we will see if we need to adapt our system.”

The world is currently upside down due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus, also known as the coronavirus. According to the
World Health Organization, this new virus was unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. However, due to people traveling, there are now over 1,000,000 coronavirus cases and 50,000 deaths from the disease in the world. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the three main symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath may only show until 2-14 days after exposure. To protect yourself, you can wash their hands for at least 20 seconds regularly, avoid touching your face, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at your house, avoid large crowds, and avoid all non-essential travel.

The country has taken many measures to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, such as President Trump implementing the rule of social distancing until April 30, 2020 so there is less contact among people in public. In addition, many non-essential businesses have been shut down or the employers must work from home as another way to “flatten the curve.”

In Pennsylvania, governor Tom Wolfe declared that schools are officially closed for the rest of the school year so that the health of staff members and students is not being compromised. Although there are many concerns during this time, how students are continuing their education during a pandemic is a major concern that many families have.

Some classes are easier than others to have students learn and look over the information on their own. However, the students are always permitted to have Google Meet sessions with their teachers if they need any assistance or explanations of their material.

“I am concerned about my students taking the AP test later in the year since the test changed and we had to switch gears,” physics teacher Charlene Wyrick said. “It’s difficult to provide effective feedback on free response questions and we can no longer do labs. I’m trying a Google Meet just for my AP class today to discuss common mistakes and correct problem solving techniques for the assignments I post.”

Advanced Placement tests and how teachers are helping students are only some of the concerns regarding distance learning. There are some courses where it seems almost impossible to learn everything someone may need to know or do all of the hands on activities offered, such as tech education or gym classes.

“In my class, I am focusing more on the cognitive aspects of the activities I am teaching as opposed to the physical aspects of the games and activities,” physical education teacher Tom Bell said. “My hope is the students will better understand the concepts associated with the game and activity though watching a video and answering questions that go along with the video, or completing a skill specific worksheet.”

This whole system is new to everyone, but the Red Lion Area High School staff is working diligently to make the best out of a daunting situation. Having to transfer to the distance learning system was not only shocking at first, but it only revealed more downfalls as time went on.

“I am disappointed that we all cannot physically be at school because during physical education class the students have the opportunity to be active, and for some this may be the only exercise or activity they get in a day,” Bell said. “Exercise has so many benefits, both for the body and the mind, I think it is important for the students to do some form of exercise or activity every day.”

Although teachers and students alike are quickly adapting to these life altering changes, it can be especially difficult for students. This is the first time students have experienced a national emergency that has scared the whole world, however, they still need to continue their educational pursuits. 

“On one hand, I like being home and getting to spend time with my family, while also getting to work on school assignments at my own pace,” junior Mera D’Aquila said. “On the other hand, it doesn’t even really feel like school to me because my assignments have been significantly reduced. The Google Meets have been helpful, but nothing can ever compensate for talking to somebody in person.”

No one, especially the seniors, expected this to be the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Even though many students, faculty members, and parents are dimmed by this whole experience, it is all for the safety of everyone.

“This isn’t replacing traditional education, this is an emergency,” Shue said. “This is the best that we have at this time.”
The teacher and the students of the journalism class are communicating with each other by using the platform Google Meet. The Red Lion Area Senior High School staff are using the Google Meet platform as an easy way to talk to and see their students during the stay at home order due to the spread of COVID-19. 

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