Return to classroom in hybrid format

Connecting with peers, teachers in-person outweighs other concerns

After months of learning from their rooms and watching teachers Zoom-lecture, students in the San Ramon Valley finally have the opportunity to opt for hybrid learning mid-March, thanks to declining coronavirus cases.

Last November, 39% of San Ramon Valley High School students said they would return for hybrid instruction, while 61% decided to continue learning remotely.

The reasons students opted for remote learning are varied. For senior Michelle Hoang, accessibility was an issue. “I chose remote learning partly because I can’t drive. I don’t have the accessibility to go to school.” 

Despite missing physical interactions, students commonly said health and safety was a priority. Eli Dinfotan, a senior, stated that “I chose to continue remote learning for health concerns over my learning environment. My logic was that, if it does become safe to meet in person, but I have to continue learning online, I can just meet up with friends on my own time.” 

For those who decided to return to campus once it is safe, even if the in-person experience will be different, connecting with their peers and teachers in-person outweighed other concerns. 

After a long period of learning online during which physical interactions were limited and she was largely confined to her room, senior Sabrina Carney has opted for hybrid learning.

“I had a hard time being home for how long I was,” Carney recalled. “My mental health took a plunge, something I have never experienced before. It hurt me and I am too stubborn to ask for help, which made it worse. Seeing my brother and sister go somewhere in order to do school, and knowing that I am stuck in my room hurt. I chose to do hybrid because getting back into that kind of routine would help me with a little more normal.”

Despite some safety concerns, sophomore Jyotsna Jha will also be returning to the campus “because I believe that I will be able to learn more if I can see my teachers in person than I currently am with remote learning.” That way, she will also be able to meet with friends and see her teachers in-person.

Teachers returning for in-person instruction will also be tasked with handling online and in-person students. Savannah Heupel, an AP Stats teacher, will be teaching four in-person classes. But due to the heavy workload that comes with online teaching, she says that “ I haven’t had time to prepare for that transition yet! I don’t think I’ll be prepared for it until it happens.”

Students have most definitely been fretting about the impact of online learning on their school work, but this experience is also foreign to teachers who are doing their best to ensure a smooth transition. According to Carney, “teachers are some of the bravest people I know. They are trying so hard to accommodate everyone, including themselves. They deserve the universe and all of the respect.”

At the moment, the transition seems to be at a standstill while the school administration awaits the shift of Contra Costa County from the purple zone to the red zone, signaling a significant decrease in coronavirus cases. 

Meanwhile, for seniors, the 2020-21 school year has appeared to be a prolonged extension of uncertainty. The continued delaying of hybrid-instruction as well as the potential cancellation of senior events such as senior ball have been met with dismay.

Dinfotan said, “I feel somewhat disheartened by the events that are repeatedly postponed or canceled altogether.”

However, although Hoang feels as if there have been “a lot of missed opportunities, events that I’ve missed, things I could have done, for me, personally things are going well, so I don’t have anything to worry about.” It’s less a sense of disappointment than one of a visceral hole in their senior year.

Nonetheless, there is much to anticipate and the 2020-21 school year will surely be one to remember. Carney remains optimistic and simply says, “I hope that I can finish this year strong and actually see the faces of my classmates as we graduate together.”