From vacation to virtual learning

FCPS returns to the digital classroom amidst ongoing COVID-19 pandemic


Courtesy of Addie Brown

Despite not attending classes in person to begin the school year, senior girls continued the “senior sunrise” tradition by meeting outside the school bright and early on the first day of school. Seniors are hoping to find safe ways to celebrate their final year of high school as the year goes on.

Jack Shields and Nicky Varela

McLean students are finally back to school, but already the new school year has proven to be unfamiliar territory for teachers and students alike as they try to adjust to digital learning for the 2020-21 school year. As expected, many students have found themselves struggling to adjust to the new normal within the first two school days.

“Online has a lot of problems that are just gonna take getting used to,” freshman Andrew Von Elm said. “It’s hard to focus on the teacher, internet problems, people don’t like turning on their cameras, everything’s just slower because of the chat. It’s gonna be a challenge getting used to.”

Along with the challenges to learning in a virtual classroom, students are also having difficulty communicating with their peers in a digital environment. 

“There’s a lot less interaction on blackboard then there is in an actual classroom and it sucks,” senior Lexi Russo said. 

Although the transition from summer to online learning has been tough on some students, the start of digital learning for this school year has avoided repeating the disastrous start to distance learning this past spring. 

“Blackboard Collaborate worked well for me. I heard for some people their classes crashed, but that didn’t happen for me,” Von Elm said.

However, the effects of online learning haven’t been all negative. Students feel more relaxed at home thanks to freedoms that otherwise wouldn’t be offered on a typical school day.

“It’s nice to be able to do my own things during breaks and being able to go out and get lunch,” Russo said.

Most importantly, online school has served its purpose-keeping students from being exposed to COVID-19. While students may gripe about the annoyance of Blackboard Collaborate, it’s hard to argue against the benefits.

“If I had to think of perks of online learning, the biggest one is I’m staying safe,” Von Elm said. “I’m not risking anyone’s life just to go to Algebra.”