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The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

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The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

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[OPINION] Lack of Zoom option interferes with students’ feelings about online school

With the recent change in online school, students are not as grateful for online school as they used to be.
Now+that+assessments+are+weighted+at+90%25%2C+a+single+missed+assignment+in+any+given+class+can+have+serious+consequences.
Photo by Fernando Arroyo Garcia
Now that assessments are weighted at 90%, a single missed assignment in any given class can have serious consequences.

Opinions Editor Jonathan Saucedo is a two-year member of the Wildcat Chronicle who frequently writes opinion pieces. The views expressed in this piece are his own

Sunday night comes by, and as miserable as it is waking up for school, the cycle will continue for all students…at least until May.

Whether it be a blizzard or any other intense weather situation, schools are periodically forced to close and prepare for online school days if it is unsafe for students to attend. When asked, a majority of students give the same reasons as to why online school is way better than in-person school, but with the changes that have emerged in a post-COVID world, do students still feel the same way?

During COVID, schools were not allowed to open their doors, forcing students at West Chicago Community High School to attend online classes using the app Zoom. Zoom is a communications technology company that allows people – in this case, teachers – to hold meetings. In the 2020-21 school year, Zoom was used with students as a way of mimicking a normal in-person school day.

Although many students yearned for an in-person school day that year, some enjoyed the flexibility and instructions that came along with online classes. Online classes allowed students to sleep in and wake up whenever they felt like it, complete assignments faster, and have more free time to do “whatever.” Some students report that they did not have to try as much as they would have if attending classes within the school building.

Another factor of online school was that having an F in any class would not necessarily fail the student: instead, they were encouraged to complete retakes throughout the semester, and even attend tutoring sessions during asynchronous time or after-school hours. (This is one aspect of pandemic-era learning that has largely remained – at least, at West Chicago Community High School.)

School was also held for just half a day during the pandemic.

And so, what happened was that students got used to the freedom and flexibility Zoom learning offered, and found themselves taking up hobbies, or spending more time with friends and family. Much as they complained, they came to actually enjoy online learning.

“41% of US graduate students prefer online education to traditional education. Research has found that of American graduate students, two in five believe that online education actually offers a better all-around experience than a traditional experience in a college-level classroom,” Delvin Peck, an instructional design consultant, said.

In January 2024, West Chicago Community High School held three e-learning days, all due weather. These online classes were highly anticipated, and yet students quickly figured out that they did not offer the same benefits that quarantine-based classes brought.

On e-learning days, there is no teacher to guide the students. Many assignments are expected by 3:00 p.m. (the end of a traditional school day), and much of the work that students complete is graded. Of course, this is not the case in every class: the reporter is speaking based on personal experiences, and feedback from peers.

Online work would not be a problem for students if the assignments were not so long. Some tasks might involve an “extended written response” or a whole quiz. Obviously, faculty is trying to ensure that students keep up with the planned curriculum, and are able to jump right back into the expected learning when they return to in-person classes. This concept makes sense, but has been – admittedly – hard for students to get used to.

Of course, students would prefer if e-learning assignments were kept light and simple – if they were easy or fun to complete. They would also prefer if they were not given an F for work not done, especially when the assignment counts as an assessment. 

A student examines his semester two final grade; failure to participate in even one e-learning day can impact a student’s grade. (Photo by Fernando Arroyo Garcia)

“I feel like having assessment grades online is bogus because if you have something come up that day and you can’t do the work, your grade goes all the way down,” junior Abdullah Hammad Bakshi said.

Students are not opposed to meeting with their teachers on Zoom during e-learning days, or other times.

“I always wanted to make Mondays online work and the other days in-school,” Hammad Bakshi said.

If the weather gets that bad to the point where students are forced to stay inside, let them enjoy the day off. While it is true that according to the state of Illinois, students are supposed to have minimum of 176 school days a year, and a snow day off would lead to an extra day tacked onto the end of the school year, it is better to have the day off than to be required to participate in an e-learning experience, especially if Zoom meetings on snow days are not an option.

It would be great if a potential emergency day could be added at the start/end of spring break or winter break. Sure, long breaks are great, but even a single day off a long five-day work week can be relaxing for plenty. If such an option is possible, it would eliminate the need for the emergency day to be tacked onto the end of the school year.

What else is there to be said except whoever e-learning days – as they are right now – are not effective, and ultimately cause students frustration. Either bring the students and teachers together on Zoom if an incliment weather day is called, or tap into those emergency days, wherever they may fall.

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Your donation will support the student journalists of West Chicago Community High School. Your contribution will help us cover our annual website hosting costs. We appreciate your support!

About the Contributors
Jonathan Saucedo
Jonathan Saucedo, Opinions Editor
Jonathan is a junior at West Chicago Community High School. He joined Journalism last year and has learned many important lessons - especially that deadlines can be tricky. This year, Jonathan is an up-and-coming opinions section editor. He is grateful for this position and his ability to be a leader for the Chronicle. Besides Journalism, Jonathan loves the draw/sketch (although he may not be good at it, he draws in his free time and during school when classes get a little boring). He also has a very sociable personality and can talk to people very easily, but when it comes to a presentation, he kind of falls off. His goal for this year's JPro class is to at least publish 25 assignments over the course of the year. Well, the task may be tough, but he believes in himself and so should you. Oh, and another one of his goals is to find a job. Over the summer, he went on a job hunt, but a lot of businesses declined, leaving Jonathan sad and broke. He is excited for Journalism and cannot wait to be a part of the team all year long - and next year, as well, when he becomes a full-on editor and the last of his peers. 
Fernando Arroyo Garcia
Fernando Arroyo Garcia, Photo Editor
Fernando Arroyo Garcia is a senior who enjoys hanging out with his friends at the gym outside of school. At school, he is involved in AV Club and the newly-formed Drone Club. His favorite shows consist of "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul", though he believes the latter is the better show of the two. His most enjoyable experience over the summer was buying his Canon T6i camera, which he used a lot over the summer.
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