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The view from a student

Virtual learning is a huge issue right now. Many states, including New Jersey, have removed the option altogether. People say that it causes learning loss, which is true for many people. However, for some, it offers the option for students to do better in school. If both options are available, both kinds of students will do better. The thing is, it’s difficult to find a kid that supports this. Well, here I am.

I’m 12 years old, and will be starting 7th grade in September. My school district has kept safe over the age of hybrid learning, but I’m still worried. Even though I’ve been vaccinated since June, I’m still worried. My story about virtual learning has to do with my anxiety, which has been made much worse due to the pandemic.

From the beginning of virtual learning, I remember really hoping that we would get to learn from home. I thought it was really cool. And, my wishes were granted. The way my school worked at the time was that the teachers would post work, you would do it on your own, and have a video meeting for like an hour every couple days. I do much better on my own. As an extremely fast worker, I’ve never liked having to sit in class, bored, waiting for everyone else. With this style, I could work for anand hour and a half, and go relax.

I would work extra hard and finish my weekly assignments on Monday, and not have much else for the rest of the week. My sisters struggled a little with organizing their schedules, but my dad helped them. For my sisters, virtual learning has been a challenge. But, the thing is, that’s them. If they prefer in-person, let them do that. But, if I prefer virtual, I should be able to do that.

Come September 2020, the virtual learning switched to having full-time learning. Though it was only half a school day, you would have to get on with your teacher for the 30 minute period. It was back to me waiting for everyone else, but I found it much easier than in-person. It wasn’t just because the periods were shorter. If I was worried about something, I could more easily take a breath and manage my anxiety. I could talk to other people so much easier through a screen. I could share my jokes and laugh a little with my class because we were virtual.

As hybrid started, I respected that people wanted to go in-person. However, I stayed virtual. For most of the school year, I wasn’t able to get vaccinated, and my sisters still aren’t able to. But, as I said earlier, my district had protocols set up to keep the students safe. However, I still had anxiety. Though my grandmother is vaccinated, she is old, meaning she is high risk. I was worried for her. I was also worried about me, because I have a heart condition, making me high risk as well.

Now, having to go back to school freaks me out. I am worried about me, my sisters, and my family. I don’t like the idea of cramming so many kids, vaccinated or unvaccinated, into one building. I don’t like the idea of eating lunch with so many other kids. That, to me, is unsafe. I wouldn’t trust so many kids to follow the rules and stay 6 feet apart. So many young kids don’t know what that means. Even though I feel people can act like the pandemic is over, it isn’t. For younger kids, it’s still like it was at first. Covid-19 can still hurt them.

The thing is, my story isn’t the only reason a person might not want to go back in-person. Some people learn better. Unvaccinated students might have health concerns. Everybody has a different reason why something does or doesn’t work for them. This is just one kid’s reason. There are so many kids out there with their own reasons and their own thoughts.

Something to think about is this. If 95% of people want something, they are the majority. However, that doesn’t mean you can ignore the 5% minority. They still exist. The people like me that want to stay virtual might be the minority, but we are here. Our reasons are valid. There are so many concerned parents and students that want to have virtual learning as an option. We have reasons. We have concerns. We should get virtual learning back.

Zoe Mihalick, Somerset County

Permission Granted by Parent of Zoe.

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