Transitioning from in-person to online learning: A rollercoaster ride for all ages

Olivia Alvord, Staff Writer

As working from home becomes the new normal, student adjust to learning online. Photo retrieved from

After schools moved to virtual learning in March, students, parents, and teachers were faced with adapting to a new normal. Parents had to step into the role of teacher, and many students were forced into hours of staring at a screen or on Zoom calls. It has been a transition for everyone that has left people missing out on normalized relationships, connections, and interactive learning. 

Although most Wash. schools are still doing full virtual learning for at least the start of the 2020-2021 school year, it is looking as if there is a light at the end of the tunnel. With the start of the new school year has come several small victories, such as many teachers being allowed back into their classrooms to teach virtually, some students being allowed to return to school for half-day small group sessions, and in other cases, the return of child care. With these small victories have come big changes, as students of all ages, teachers, and school staff have faced the drastic changes education has undergone.

“I miss recess and my friends,” shared Esther (age 8). Although Esther has since gotten to go back to school for half-day small groups sessions, she has enjoyed doing fun online activities like Nearpod, a platform that uses quizzes, polls, videos, and drawing boards to engage students online. But overall, Esther prefers seeing everyone in person, because, “I just don’t like seeing part of people on the computer screen.” 

Abigail (age 13), also likes the traditional in-person learning environment because she can receive extra assistance in the classroom. She stated, “I’m happy I get to go back to school for half-days. I can work on my own at the start of the day and then get help when I’m at school in the afternoon.”

Saint Martin’s Senior, Diana Tran, reflected on some of the struggles college students are facing when she spoke about the transition of moving college courses online in March: “Online learning has been a challenge for me. I am somebody who likes to get to know my teachers in-person. Without any of that interaction, staying focused and motivated is hard. With classes being online and at our own pace, I have lost all my regular routines and schedules, which has left me feeling unmotivated overall.”

K-5 Para-Educator, Julianne Alvord, felt similarly regarding lost routines and schedules. As a school employee and a mother, it was hard for her to balance working from home and helping her two kids stay organized and on top of schoolwork. She often balanced her Zoom staff meetings with making dinner and helping with math homework. She is happy that she is able to work in the classroom for the new school year. Julianne said, “we are tentatively bringing back Kindergarten in shifts at the end of this month, so I am excited to get to work with them in-person again.” 

High school teacher Shane Smith also found it difficult to balance his work requirements while taking care of his two young children: “With our usual child care option falling through, my wife and I had to develop a pretty intense scheduling plan to balance both our work requirements while also watching our youngest and helping our 2nd grader navigate Zoom calls and independent work time.”

Washingtonian students and educators have experienced drastic changes to the education system in a short time. The new normal has impacted many, and sparked different experiences in and out of the classroom. 

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