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As classes shift online, students miss hands-on activities, events

The coronavirus forced students at Loomis Chaffee boarding school in Windsor, Connecticut, to leave campus and go home for online learning. (Lauren Volkodav/YJI)

Windsor, Conn., U.S.A. – Due to widespread panic and growing concerns resulting from the sudden and fast spread of the coronavirus, schools around the world are closing due to fear of infection.

My school, like several others, has decided to move to a remote learning approach for the spring term.

This decision by Loomis Chaffee School has come as a surprise, as students expected to return to campus after spring break. We were not able to say goodbye to friends or even pack our rooms.

Now, the class of 2020 has lost the chance to experience graduation ceremonies, prom, and other class events after waiting four grueling years due to sudden decision by schools across Connecticut and other states.

The choice to close schools for the rest of the 2019-20 school year is a choice that is too early to make as of now.

But as of right now, we are forced to adapt to remote learning, as will millions of others across the world.

But how effective will remote learning really be? The human interaction with peers and professors we experience at school is invaluable. Online classes can’t replace that.

It is not effective to sit in front of a computer screen listening to teachers speak about how online classes aren’t an ideal situation as the school systems attempt to maintain the illusion of normalcy.  For many of my classes, which are lab-based or debate-intensive; it wouldn’t be productive for many of these courses to operate online.

While classes will be able to continue online in some capacity, the spring sports season has been canceled. That means student athletes are missing out on this crucial time to develop skills that will help them compete at the collegiate level or communicate with college coaches.

Not only are athletes feeling the harsh effects of school closures, but many international students were suddenly forced to return to their home countries, many of which are high-risk places. Across the country this past week, students were forced to move out of their dorms and left scrambling to find accommodations or flights back home.

Due to the sudden and frightening onset of coronavirus, school officials have been at a loss of what to do. Their uncertainties as well as inability to handle this situation have been projected onto the students, resulting in many of us questioning what will happen next. In the future, schools need to be prepared to handle pandemics as well as other dangerous situations, instead of giving mixed messages to their students.

But for now, the coronavirus threat that has arrived in the United States forces us to face the uncomfortable truth that we are unprepared to handle this unexpected pandemic.

As confusion and fear sweep across eerily empty school campuses across the country, students have to meet the new reality of living with a pandemic. While I may miss my daily school routine, for the benefit of public health, I will along with countless others adjust to online classes and loss of on-campus athletics and extracurriculars for the time being.

Because of poor preparation by government and educational leaders and their inability to handle a widespread pandemic, students have unexpectedly been forced to adapt to a harsh new reality.

Lauren Volkodav is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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