S/T Students Struggling to Adjust to Virtual Learning

Amy Lepore, Student Life Editor

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, ERHS students in the Science and Technology (S/T) Program are adapting to complete their rigorous coursework virtually. Full of uncertainty, some S/T students are struggling. 

When approaching a new school year, many students worry about the intensity of their workload; the transition to virtual learning only exacerbates this fear. PGCPS offered little guidance about the adjustments that speciality programs—like S/T—are making, stating that students “will continue to receive instruction tailored to their program of study from their assigned teachers.” While students expect that more work will accompany advancing to a higher grade, this school year has proven to be more difficult than they anticipated. In reference to her Physics S/T class, junior Mecca Lartigue stated that the work is “going to be hard regardless,” but learning would be “more effective in person.” S/T students typically see between three and five hours of homework each night; some students have as much as eight hours on Wednesdays due to the lack of live classes. 

“The majority of my day is spent sitting at my desk working,” said Lartigue. “I get discouraged, because there’s always another assignment to do.”

Much of the work that S/T students face this year is self-studying. Especially in S/T and AP classes, students typically rely on face-to-face interaction to completely understand complex material. Previously, they could easily ask the person sitting next to them for clarification or ask their teacher a quick question before leaving class. Without these opportunities, students are spending more time reviewing and relearning content after class. “The concepts are tricky and I don’t have as much time to ask my classmates or my teacher to explain things since we’re not in-person,” said S/T senior Mara Hanson. 

As students struggle to grasp concepts, many of them are also worrying about how this will affect their future. “I’m nervous about a concept being so hard that I can’t understand it no matter how hard I try,” stated S/T sophomore Maya Miller. Much of the S/T curriculum builds upon knowledge from previous courses, and some students worry about the strength of this foundation. However, other students aren’t as worried about the future, but more so about the present. “This year feels kind of fake,” added Lartigue. “I haven’t given [senior year] enough thought because there’s so much going on outside of school.”

Most of all, students wish their teachers would empathize with them more. “I would appreciate it if teachers would consider what we’re seeing in the world right now, because it weighs you down,” said Lartigue. Because sports, clubs, and other after-school activities are not occurring in their normal capacities, students are left only with schoolwork and missing their usual stress-relieving activities and friends. S/T students acknowledge that independent assignments are necessary but still wish the workload, especially on Wednesdays and weekends, wasn’t so heavy. 

“It would be easier if teachers reassured students that it’s okay if you don’t get something right away,” added Miller. 

Despite the current stress and confusion, students offer support and advice to each other. They emphasize the importance of time management and balance. “It sounds cliche, but get your work done on time and don’t put off your college app stuff,” advised Hanson. “Do what you need to do, but don’t overwork yourself,” agreed Lartigue. “Focus on your mental health, especially now.” 

Continue to check the Raider Review for more tips on staying positive and on top of course work during distance learning.