Iowa Eliminates Hybrid Learning

 It was a bright and sunny day when students and staff of West High learned that Hybrid learning was no longer an option. Learning in school affects everyone differently. Some have positive views on it, some have negative views. In Iowa, all public schools have been required to go either 100% online, or 100% in person. When interviewing three different members of Iowa City West High, we had various responses to how they feel about learning five days a week. “Going to school everyday is really tiring and I don’t know  how I managed to do that last year,” said Quinn Abbott ‘24, was also on the football team during the season,  how sports had been affected by COVID-19, Abbott said that if one person tested positive, everyone had to quarantine, successfully setting them back two weeks, and not being able to hold practices or attend games. He says that it’s strange being back, but good to see the friends that he wasn’t able to see while in Hybrid school. 

Abbott says that even though it is nice seeing friends, the risk may not be worth it in the long run, because more and more people could be getting sick. There are going to be restrictions, and new safety precautions to try and keep students in schools safe. “What I’m guessing is that there’s gonna be a lot more practices cancelled.” Abbott voiced his concerns for future sports seasons, saying that more practices will most likely be cancelled, not allowing for students to get the full experience of being on a sports team.

High school senior student Alyssa Skala, 21’ shared similar opinions with Abbott. Skala did online learning for the first trimester of school, coming back to do hybrid learning for two weeks before the 100% in person learning structure was put into place. “It’s definitely a lot to come back to, like it’s a huge transition.” Skala feels as if she doesn’t have as much time for homework, even if social connection with peers and teachers helps. Skala also feels underprepared for college, saying that seniors of this year might be behind on the curriculum. Skala believes that once the third and final trimester starts, everyone will feel better once they have set teachers and new schedules. 

“I have a lot of testing anxiety, and a lot of walking through the hallways anxiety, so my GPA, my GPA went up a lot [during online school].” Skala said that she personally did better in the online environment, even if the isolation was hard to deal with. Online school helped raise her grades and helped her with school in general. She is happy to be back though, even if it takes some getting used to. 

She also considers it a little bit unfair, that even though online students only go to half their classes each day, they still receive the same amount of credit. Not to mention, online students may either fall behind in the curriculum, or be way ahead than their in person peers and classmates. She predicts that there will be a gap in education over the following years, given that some students may be behind others from this year. School will come even harder for those that are behind because they didn’t learn as much last year. 

“It felt very sudden.” Drew Bloom, a social studies teacher and girls swim coach, felt like the students and teachers hadn’t been given much warning before beginning a five day school week. He thinks that there will be a depressing atmosphere, and that students will get worn out, and even ‘left behind’ in larger classes. “In smaller classes, it felt like we could have a conversation, but in bigger classes, there are more people, which makes it harder to talk to everyone.” Even though teachers are used to five day weeks at school, Bloom believes that even some teachers will get tired. 

He hopes that learning will improve, and that he will be able to form greater connections with classes and students, even in bigger classes. Bloom thinks that seniors will be impacted less, because they have already had ‘the high school experience’, and being in their last year might not affect them too much. 

As a swim coach, Bloom often had to alter practices and competition attendance, which caused a major inconsistency in the swimming season. Setting up events was often very difficult, though Bloom hopes that when students start getting vaccinated, things will start going back to normal. Students and coaches had to take many protocols to keep everyone safe, including two week quarantines, which caused many attendance problems. Correspondence between coaches also may not make much of a difference in such situations. A lot of the time, students chose to be online to help their seasons, coming to practices after their daily lessons.  “I really hope this helps everybody’s mental health.”