Due to the coronavirus, the beginning of the school year has been unlike any year before. As a result, students have switched to online learning, which is paired with a new set of barriers and technical difficulties. (Illustration by Melissa Ponce)
Maywood Center for Enriched Studies

Students face a glitchy back-to-school

As students begin to settle into the first months of online learning, they face a new set of challenges, unlike in previous years. From getting kicked out of Zoom calls to a new schedule, students share the barriers they face as a result of distance learning.

“I have to find a source of internet. I have to go to my older sibling’s house to make sure I have the internet to do my work,” Maywood Center for Enriched Studies senior Luisa Alvarez said.

Despite LAUSD providing free hotspots to those who need it, internet connection continues to be unstable for some students.

In addition to unstable internet, glitches in students’ Chromebooks are another contributing factor to disrupted learning. Since Zoom often does not allow students to sign in, logging into a class is a struggle. Running both Zoom and platforms such as Nearpod has also proven to slow down Chromebooks.

“I have been late to class because Zoom won’t load… and if they [teachers] put a Nearpod lesson you’ll be waiting there for ten minutes and nothing will happen,” Maywood Center for Enriched Studies sophomore Abraham Esquivel said.

Some students also find it difficult to get their questions answered in an online setting.

“Asking a question can be difficult sometimes…in some classes, you can’t unmute your microphone, ” Esquivel said.

One Zoom feature that teachers utilize to give students the opportunity to interact with one another is breakout rooms. However, due to not all students feeling comfortable with turning on their microphones or cameras, awkward silence often fills these discussions.

“Sometimes you are just sitting there waiting for someone to talk,” Alvarez said.

Yet for students who are new to the school, breakout rooms provide the opportunity to meet fellow peers.

“Most students are new to me, but while I’m in the breakout rooms, I am able to get to know them,” sixth-grader Luis Mojica said. 

Another change that has accompanied online learning is the altered class schedule. The new schedule implements a later start time, beginning school at 9 a.m. and time allocated for synchronous and asynchronous work.

The schedule outlines 43 minutes reserved for teacher-led instruction and another 22 minutes for independent work time. Yet some students share that the time in their classes is not always divided this way.

“It’s literally just the lecture and in a way, I’m kinda okay with that… I feel like I am still getting stuff done,” Alvarez said.

However, students state that less asynchronous time, or in some cases, no independent work time leaves more to be done outside of school time.

“When school mentioned that there was a plan to have asynchronous work time, it doesn’t really count if we are already out of school. They made it seem like it was going to be different,” Maywood Center for Enriched Studies junior Abril Zuniga said. “I have a lot of [technical] difficulties when it comes to online learning…I’ve been kicked out of Zoom calls before.” 

At the end of the day, the challenges of going back to school are unlike any in years before.

“I feel like because of online learning, a lot was taken away from what goes on inside of a classroom… there’s a lot of things that no matter how much you like or dislike about school, you’ll start missing it,” Esquivel said.