Recently, the Centreville Sentinel asked students to fill out a poll about their opinions on virtual learning and the upcoming plans to have students return in person. Freshmen and seniors will go back to school in person starting March 2, and sophomores and juniors will return March 9 following Fairfax County Public School’s concurrent model. The poll got 100 responses; 51 were seniors, 19 were sophomores, and juniors and freshman both had 15 responses.
When asked if they preferred virtual learning, 31% strongly agreed that they did, and 10% said they strongly disliked it. It was almost evenly spread across whether virtual learning is easier or harder than in person school. One side of this argument stated that it can be more difficult to retain information and pay attention to school so work can end up harder. One freshman said, “I feel like I’m not learning as much as I would in in-person learning. Some days I get no work at all while others I have to stay up late working on homework and studying. The workload is very inconsistent and classes work at a very slow pace.” On the other hand, virtual school gives students more time at home to complete work and get help on asynchronous Mondays. ”I have extra time to do schoolwork that would have otherwise been spent on getting to/from school and getting ready in the morning,” said Lena Jovancevic on why they like virtual learning.
When asked if they prefer virtual or in person learning overall, the results were 53% to 47% in favor of virtual learning, and it was an even split on whether or not people’s preferences have changed since the beginning of the year.
The majority of the school’s population opted to stay virtual when given the option to come back to school in person, and that was reflected in the results. 57% said they would prefer to continue with virtual. A sophomore who wants to stay virtual said, “I think it makes no sense to go back especially when we only have about three to four months of school left. We did five months of school online, I believe that we can manage to do the rest.” 25% wanted to wait until all teachers and support staff are vaccinated, then move to the proposed current model, and 10% wanted to wait until all teachers and support staff are vaccinated and then open fully. “I want to go back to school but I also want to know I am safe there” said Tori Callender.
7% wanted to open up fully for 100% face-to-face instruction, and only 1% wanted to move forward with the proposed concurrent model. “It is so hard to wake up everyday and sit in front of a screen. I am barely learning. I am not interacting with peers. We need to go back,” said a junior who would prefer to to open up fully.
Overall, virtual learning is the clear favorite. Many like it because they find it less stressful than in person school. “I feel more comfortable sitting and being able to focus in class more. I am able to isolate myself from distractions,” said a senior. Others find it to be the safer option for them and their family. A freshman said, “Coming from someone that lives in the same house as an immunosuppressed person, anyone catching COVID in my house is a risk that the immunosuppressed person could die. For me, it’s an easy choice. I can do alright with online learning and I’m still interacting with my friends, so I would much rather do online learning and protect the immunosuppressed person in my house than go to school and take a big risk in bringing COVID back.” Though this is a small sample size, the majority of students clearly prefer virtual learning over any potential in person plans.