Distance Learning: A Time Capsule

Distance Learning: A Time Capsule

Maya Hurst ‘21, Junior Editor

To be completely honest, I don’t fully remember the first time I heard about the Coronavirus. From what I can recall, it was most likely some mention in the news or some post on social media. I remember thinking that the outbreak would never impact my life in any way; sure, news of this far-off virus was interesting and new, but I felt so removed from the situation that I couldn’t believe that life would ever come to what it has now. 

I read news about the outbreak in Wuhan with sadness and compassion, and yet in the same regard that I would read my history textbook — as if these events took place long ago and were no longer something to be concerned about. I suppose that this was a naive way to view things, but I had yet to process what the world was going through. The idea that this entire situation is happening globally in this day and age is a concept that I still can’t wrap my mind around.

Sure, I may have not left my house in over a month now, but somehow my life feels eerily calm. This, of course, is both a blessing and a curse, but I am lucky to be able to say that the biggest “curse” the Coronavirus has put upon me is boredom and restlessness. One of the most interesting parts of quarantine so far is getting the delightful opportunity to try out online education. (That was only half sarcastic, if you were wondering.) I don’t know about you, but I’m loving the shorter, sweatpants-outfitted days, and have actually been sleeping for a decent amount of time each night. When it comes down to it, I think that having this adjusted online school experience is a complete toss-up. Some people love it, while others struggle to stay motivated and excited about school. 

In the words of sophomore Hutton Saunders, “online school is good and bad”. In the spirit of any school day, remote learning does provide a somewhat productive and educational part to our days in quarantine. I, for one, know I wouldn’t be getting out of bed before noon if it weren’t for that 9:15 am advisory Zoom call. Hutton went on to explain that she “personally [doesn’t] like online school because I miss being around my classmates and teachers. To add to that, the majority of my teachers are giving me and my peers more work than when we were in actual school which has just been really difficult considering quarantine”. 

In my own experience, having school online has worked out significantly better than I thought it would. The shortened days give me more time to relax while also providing a productive and worthwhile part of my everyday life. Our days have become more focused on learning rather than memorizing or being tested on anything. I love seeing my classmates and teachers over Zoom, and the class time acts as another time during which we can all connect and relate to one another in our respective struggles. My teachers have all been incredibly supportive and empathetic — they completely understand what we are going through, and consistently check up on our mental health. 

In an interview with Mr. Sullivan, he explained that he is also highly impressed and proud of how well the GA and Brunswick teachers have been handling this unprecedented occurrence. Teachers are able to take new approaches to curriculum and teaching, and even AP classes have been given a break- some time to sit back and really learn the material without the stress of an hours-long exam in the near future. In addition, as an upper school, we have been focusing on creating spaces in which a sense of community can be fostered, even though we are not physically together at this moment. The Upper School Canvas page has been a place where we can all stay up to date on recent announcements, hear Laurel’s fun fact, and now hear our very own GA radio station!

Some concerns that Mr. Sullivan touched on included the abundant amount of screen time for each student, as well as how difficult this is for the senior class. After years of hard work, this year’s seniors are unable to enjoy the benefits of Senior Spring in the same way, and all of our hearts go out to them. As Mr. Sullivan noted, these seniors should be “rightly celebrated during this time”. Another difficulty we all face is the reality that our lives are incredibly uncertain at this moment. In an institution that is as highly organized and scheduled as GA, we have a hard time coping with ambiguity. Thankfully, both students and faculty have been incredibly understanding during this time. In fact, Mr. Sullivan noted that complaints from students and faculty have been at an all-time low. It appears that we have all consciously acknowledged that we need to keep going, keep afloat, and continue to make progress rather than get bogged down in the negatives. 

Lastly, Mr. Sullivan reminded me that we all need to remain incredibly adaptive. “What worked in March hasn’t always worked in April, and what worked in April might not work come May”. Above all else, Greenwich Academy is a community that sticks together and works to overcome any challenges that come our way. One priority at the Academy is ensuring that each and every member of the GA community remain employed. While we can’t have any certain plans in these incredibly certain times, Mr. Sullivan and the administration are also positive that the seniors will get a chance to have an incredible in-person moment that celebrates them, even if it may not happen at the expected time. 

Personally, I feel selfish in saying that I have enjoyed the time I have been given to relax and spend some time with myself. I have gotten to read, to write, to journal, to watch movies and TV, and to create. This has become my new normal — a new normal that everyone is having to deal with at once. In a way, I feel blessed to have experienced such a global phenomenon during my life. Living through this moment in history has forced me to engage in self-reflection, look deeper into the lives of others, and connect to people I never thought I would.