2020 has been unlike any other year we’ve ever experienced. On March 13, 2020, Mamaroneck Schools closed down for in-person learning and switched to a 100% virtual learning platform. This was supposed to be for a few weeks, but ended up lasting the entire rest of the school year. And, although New York State has “flattened the curve”, COVID-19 is still very much a threat to everyone’s health and safety. The Mamaroneck School District, therefore, has had to adapt and weigh the benefits of in-person learning with the risks of increased virus transmission. As a result, the school gave students the choice between a hybrid and a fully remote learning option, which students have the ability to change each quarter if desired.
At our high school, 13% of the students decided to choose the fully remote option instead of the proposed hybrid model. I am one of those students who opted for remote. Although it’s a small percentage, the school is clearly doing its best to ensure an equal learning experience for these remote students amidst the pandemic compared to the spring when teachers were thrown into remote teaching with no warning. Now, with the benefit of planning over the summer, the teachers have created a more interactive and productive educational experience. They have risen to the challenge of teaching in a part in-person/part remote model.
From personal experience, I can say that no teacher is giving less attention to the remote learners, whether fully remote or on a hybrid schedule. They are trying to make sure everyone stays engaged and has an equal learning opportunity. I haven’t been in a single class at home where I wasn’t able to ask a question or I wasn’t able to answer a question the teacher asked. Teachers also have become much more accessible than they were pre-pandemic and are open to helping you succeed in whatever way they can even though they are not seeing you in person.
Mrs. Elmoznino is a good example of a teacher who has succeeded in ensuring that her remote students succeed regardless of all the impediments they may face. She has made sure her remote video students are able to learn how to use the equipment thus far and have access to all of the materials needed for success in the course by planning alternative times outside of school hours to pass along necessary equipment. Video, among many of the arts and electives, is definitely hard to teach remotely since the work is very hands-on, so it is impressive to see the amazing job teachers have done so far. Remote student, Kiera Butler (‘23), stated “I think it was hard to adjust to at first, but it’s getting easier now that everything’s had a little time to settle down” Butler’s statement represents how so many feel about this time; time to get comfortable with change.
Despite all the efforts and progress made by administration, there are definitely some disadvantages to remote learning. Another remote student, Melina Silvestro (‘23), commented, “I feel that teachers are doing the best they can to make everyone feel included and supported, however, some teachers seem to have the situation under control better than others.” One difficulty of remote learning over which teachers have no control is that it’s harder to pay attention when you’re not present physically in the classroom. For example, my dog likes to participate in the learning experience by barking through class which can be very distracting. It is also draining to be on a screen all day. You lose out on the in-person interaction with everybody and, although teachers are trying their best, it definitely adds an element of challenge when trying to provide help. Certain subjects are very hard when you can’t be hands on, such as courses with experiential learning. Of course, there are always technical difficulties to contend with, but teachers are understanding if it’s something out of your control.
All things considered, the school is doing a great job in a difficult situation. The current approach is flexible, allows for individual differences, and can quickly be changed if we need to adjust to fully remote.