Back in the classroom?

Many schools had planned for online summer school courses, but with the recent consent to allow in-class summer school, they need to decide which option is best.


After months of quarantine, the COVID-19 virus is nothing new. Many people have already found ways to cope and create new routines formed around the pandemic, including many North Dakota schools. The plan for most schools was to have summer school classes available as online courses, but with Governor Doug Burgum’s recent announcement, schools are now able to proceed with certain activities – including in-class summer school. The question is, should they?

By now, online school is also nothing new for students of North Dakota. It, like many things, has become the new “norm.” Virtual meetings and online assignments are solutions to the current situation. Or, at least, they were.

With a flattened curve and lower numbers everyday, North Dakota’s coronavirus spread has slowed down considerably. Granted, many people are still fighting to avoid and recover from the virus. However, more is known about the virus than there was in March, the start of the quarantine shut down as it were. With new precautionary aspects in place, restaurants and businesses are finding ways to keep their doors open, and schools should too.

There are ways to get around the social distancing and group regulations. Classes do not have to be as full as in previous years. Students can sit a respectable distance away from their peers and wear personal protective equipment as an added measure. Perhaps more teachers would even be willing to help students get through this and teach their usual full-year class for a summer. The point being, there are more solutions than just keeping students and teachers behind screens.

Sure, online schooling has worked so far, so why change it? Well, it should come as no shock that online learning has its flaws – it is technology, after all. Many things can go wrong for all sorts of reasons, leaving some without a way to access assignments or even the internet, for that matter. No one knows what to expect when it comes to technology – something that makes online learning a challenge.

Despite this, troubleshooting is not the only problem people are facing. Many students and teachers are feeling the effects of limited social interaction. It is no secret that staying cooped up behind a screen all day for weeks on end goes against what most would consider a healthy lifestyle, so why prolong it if there is another way?

Online schooling is causing students to miss out on the joys of social interaction. Many have already had to accept the loss of school activities like sports or clubs, but this goes beyond that. Lack of daily face-to-face communication makes it difficult for students to reach their instructors when questions on assignments or projects come about. Not only that but for the first time in a while, many teachers have had to change the ways they would usually present the curriculum, which effectively and figuratively turns students into their guinea pigs. When this is the case, no one knows what to expect or what could go wrong, which makes distance learning all the more time-consuming.

Online learning can make it harder for students to study or learn if technology is not their go-to method. The need to transfer things into material or paper can take more time and effort than what should be expected during these times. After all, there is a global pandemic going on.

And yes, distance learning has its advantages, especially during times like these where people should take social precautions, but who is to say it is something that can continue? For decades, students have fallen into the routines of learning face-to-face and going to school, proving that the traditional brick-and-mortar method of learning is effective and can withstand the test of time. However, the same cannot be said for this new online style. Who can predict the effects it will have on students and their learning? How will it impact future classes and students? No one knows, which is why the sooner students can return to the classroom the better off they will be.

Education is important, no matter where it happens or under what conditions it occurs alongside. Students should have a say in how they want to learn and what they are willing to do to achieve the education they want.

So even though online schooling has its pros, it is not enough to outweigh the benefits of in-class learning. Just because students adapted for these past few months does not mean they adapted for the better. People need other people, it is as simple as that – even if they refuse to admit it.