By Armaan Rajwany
As all 286 Broward County Public Schools are back in full swing, virtual and at-home learning seems to be the new normal for its students.
On August 19, BCPS officially began the 2020-2021 school year. Unlike years past, the district has implemented an eLearning format allowing them to function as close to normal as possible — this includes their 33 high schools.
The online format, which differs from last Spring, is a program called Microsoft Teams, which is the hub for all classroom activity. Microsoft Teams has a variety of features that include a hand-raising tool, breakout rooms, and a presentation mode to mimic the events within a physical classroom setting.
Naturally, the transition from in-person to virtual learning has taken a hefty toll on everyone involved. However, many students are optimistic about BCPS’s decision to reopen schools at this time.
While he does miss being able to socialize with his friends every day, Matthew Veerasamy, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, believes the health and safety concerns of his students, teachers, and staff come first.
When asked about his routine during a day of virtual schooling, Veerasamy said that he begins by waking up at 7:30 a.m. — an hour before school, to prepare his work and go over assignments for the upcoming classes. He then attempts to join his Microsoft Team’s meeting a little earlier than scheduled as sometimes the platform has technical issues. This means that Veerasammy, along with every other student in Broward County, spends upwards of six hours a day, split up into four consecutive hours and a half blocks, sitting in front of a computer screen.
“Despite some prolonged periods of boredom, being in class for that long of a time isn’t as bad as you may think. Teachers often provide us with breaks in between lectures to step away for a moment and relax,” said Veerasamy.
Even though the online school is a struggle, Veerasamy believes that both teachers and students must learn to adapt to be successful in virtual education.
Tehzib Philip, a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, has only positive things to say about the new program and his teachers at MSD.
“They are doing such an excellent job. I honestly don’t mind not going to school anymore. It’s so much like the real thing except I can participate from the comfort of my own house.”
While so far successful, the shift to online learning does come at the expense of some extracurricular activities. Contact-related sports and school programs requiring travel or in-person training are now facing possible delays and cancellations. Sadly, this possibility can hinder the students whose futures rely on participating in sports or clubs this year.
“While I do agree that it is necessary to have school online temporarily, we must take into account the people who need the scholarships from football or other sports when deciding the right time to reopen, ” said Jordan Hingoo, a junior.
While BCPS remains online, at least for the time being, teachers and students alike must adapt to the virtual learning environment in what is now the new era of education.
Armaan Rajwany, 16, is a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He lives in Wyndham Lakes in Coral Springs.
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