A new normal: Students react to the first days of hybrid learning


Credit: Julia Wegerbauer

WHS students walk around campus for their first day back of in person learning. Every student is wearing a mask to ensure the safety of other students and teachers. “Going to school feels a lot better than staring at a screen all day long,” sophomore Jason Shu said. “Talking with classmates and teachers in person makes you feel more connected with them.”

Deirdre Brown

Monday, Oct. 19 marked the beginning of hybrid learning at Wayland High School. Many students were filled with conflicting emotions as they navigated their way around campus, while some students were still at home awaiting their own return to school later in the week.

The new hybrid plan had many students excited for face-to-face interaction with peers and teachers. After long months without this type of interaction, many students were excited about their return to school.

“I felt pretty good because I knew I would see a lot of friends that I had not seen in a while, but I was curious to see if all the students would follow the safety rules,” senior Ryan Najemy said.

On the other hand, returning to school, for some, was a hesitant idea. Whether it was not feeling safe or comfortable, not being prepared, or any other reason, some students were nervous about their return.

“I was a bit skeptical at first,” junior Jason Shu said.

Students are split into three cohorts: Cohorts A, B, and D. Cohort A goes to school in-person on Mondays and Tuesdays and is online Thursdays and Fridays. Cohort B attends classes physically on Thursdays and Fridays, and on Mondays and Tuesdays students in this cohort are learning remotely. Cohort D will not attend school in-person and instead, will be fully remote online-learning.

For some students, the days with remote learning with little to no instruction from teachers can get overwhelming and confusing.

“I was online Monday and Tuesday, and I definitely felt like we had a lot of work to do on our own,” sophomore Billy Burke said.

In school, new rules and policies have been put into place affecting students’ daily lives. Both hallways and staircases have specific directions in which students can travel, and students must always wear masks unless they are outside and social distancing. These new changes, along with many more, are yet another aspect students need to be aware of while on campus.

“The hallways and stairs were a little confusing [on] the first day,” sophomore Riley Kendall said. “I feel like [the school] should have explained better.”

Another policy for hybrid learning is that water fountains will not be on. However, water bottle filling stations will be running for students to fill bottles that they brought from home.

“The school said we could refill water bottles but none of the fountains were on, which was really annoying because it started to get really hot,” Shu said.

A major focal point of hybrid learning was the ability for students to ask questions in real-time. Some students found that forming a solid relationship with their teachers was more difficult while online. With hybrid learning, some have been thankful for the in-person connections.

“Seeing teachers is definitely better than remote [learning],” Shu said. “I felt more engaged.”

For the at-home students, some teachers offered a “zoom to room” option where students would join the in-person class on Zoom. However, not every teacher offered this option, and some classes were given asynchronous work to complete on their own during the class period.

“My teachers’ zoom to room went all right,” Burke said. “[The teachers] sometimes forgot about one half of the class, but overall, [zoom to room] was good.”

During lunch, students were given the opportunity to sit inside the commons or field house, or anywhere outside. Many students chose to sit outside with their classmates.

“I ate in the parking lot with some friends, socially distanced,” Najemy said.

One problem that some students noticed was the lack of seating outside to provide students a spot to eat while complying with social distancing.

“Lunch in the commons was sad, but outside was fun,” Kendall said. “I feel like they should provide more tables for people outside.”

Many students’ reactions to hybrid were quite positive. There are still many new rules to get used to, but a number of students are happy to be away from a screen all day long. For some, the first week of hybrid classes ran smoothly and has left many students excited for what is to come.

“I like the hybrid plan,” Shu said. “It’s definitely more engaging than remote, and it’s nice to see your friends again and to be on campus.”