Park City High School students adjust to remote learning, again
Abrupt transition can be challenging, many say
Park Record intern
Maddie Kaufman Schiller, a senior at Park City High School, has started off her morning on recent school days by logging onto her computer from the comfort of her room and then venturing into the outdoors once the virtual bell rings. Life has been different lately for Schiller and many other PCHS students.
On Jan. 12, PCHS announced to students via their livestream morning announcements that the school would temporarily transfer to a remote format following a spike in COVID-19 cases. Students have been operating on a new schedule in which classes start later, at 10 a.m., and run for 45-minute intervals.
For students who have been learning in person this academic year, switching to remote can be jarring. Students have been flexible this past year, but it hasn’t come without challenges.
Senior Tyler Vendetti, for one, said that learning remotely can be difficult for students, especially when the transition is abrupt.
“When I am in person, I am engaged and asking questions, but over Zoom, it is hard to get that instant feedback due to the awkwardness of the online interactions,” Vendetti said.
Schiller elaborated on the difficulties she has experienced during online school. She said not being in an environment designed for learning and focus can cause students to drift away from their studies.
“The downside of remote learning is that it is a lot harder to stay motivated and complete the work,” Schiller said.
Vendetti said not all of his classes are operating the same as they were in person. Some classes don’t offer Zoom lessons and require students to stay on top of their work without much reinforcement. But other classes are continuing the same schedule as before the school went remote.
This new shutdown differs from the one high school students experienced last spring. Students now have a schedule to follow from home to keep up with their work. But similar to last spring, this transition to an online learning format was abrupt.
“Now, online school is just like school, but on a computer, having similar assignments and homework,” said junior Jude Trahan.
With a clear class schedule, students are finding themselves with more free time. Sophomore Emma Cusimano and junior Abbey Cobleigh said that they’ve enjoyed the free time to relax during a typically stressful time of the school year.
Added Trahan: “My schedule is similar, I am just sleeping later because of the last start times. After 2 o’clock, my day is quite similar. I am enjoying this change, as I can finally get enough sleep.”
Some students, meanwhile, have found that being able to catch up on sleep has been beneficial for both their mental and physical health.
“Being able to sleep in has been so positive for me, and I feel that the extra rest has been very beneficial to my schoolwork,” Schiller said. “On a physical level, I wake up feeling so much better and have had more time and energy to eat properly and exercise more consistently.”
Students are slated to return to in-person learning Monday. At the same time, the district is implementing a “Test to Stay” program for students and staff at PCHS and Treasure Mountain Junior High, which also went remote, while the spread of COVID-19 remains high. The district hopes the testing program will prevent the need to close the schools again in the future.
Students who typically learn in person are excited to get back to the classroom safely and are hopeful this was the last time they’ll participate in remote classes.
“As much as I feel in-person learning is better,” Vendetti said, “I can’t deny the fact that we need to control our cases as a school.”
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The Park City Board of Education is on track to place a bond on the ballot this fall to improve district facilities. The top priorities would be to put ninth grade in the high school, eighth grade in the middle school and to augment preschool offerings by expanding elementary schools.