Thomas Dale’s long distance education fiesta

October 28, 2020

We’re living in an unprecedented time not only as Americans but as an entire race of humans across the planet. Coronavirus, otherwise formally known across the globe as COVID-19, has placed societies around the world into drastically incomparable lifestyles that most of us, if not all of us, have never seen before. 

Around the United States, everyday lives have been taken off course and shut down completely. Lockdowns and decrees of isolation have been put into place across the entire country for the last nine months as the cases have continually grown larger and larger as time goes by. 

Now, with the primary election for the next President of the United States coming rapidly, a new political concern within the coronavirus outbreak has been outlined with whoever will win the presidency. With whoever gets elected, what will they do in regards to schools around the country that are functioning virtually?

If we look specifically at our home state of Virginia, there are different situations in place for all of the separate counties. However, if we look at Chesterfield, they’ve opted to put into place a new plan that allows for the entrance of high school students to come back to school with a hybrid plan by early November.

The hybrid plan itself involves students physically coming back to their schools for two days out of the week, with Wednesdays being “clean-up days” and the other two days will be strictly for virtual learning. 

However, the focal point of this plan is that not all students will be coming physically at the same time. Instead, half of the student population will be coming in based on alphabetical order, while the other half stays home for virtual learning. 

With this plan, there was no doubt going to be mixed reviews and turned heads. Controversial to some and perfect for others. On the other hand, students will still have the choice to stay virtual or go through with the hybrid plan, and the student population certainly gave their opinions on virtual schooling.

“I was upset,” said Thomas Dale senior Yasmeen Ramadan when asked about her initial emotions about virtual schooling. 

“I worried about struggling and keeping my grades up. I had assumed that being at home would make me care less about school work, but the complete opposite happened. I prefer it and have caught a liking to it,” she said. 

Another senior, Gavin Carraway, simply put, “virtual learning has been nice, and I love being able to go downstairs to cook some eggs after my second period.” 

Many students at Thomas Dale shared the same mindset with Ramadan, finding that virtual schooling eventually became second nature, and they learned to adapt to their new environment. However, not everybody is feeling as optimistic. 

“I hate it because of my ADHD,” said sophomore Samantha Ramsey, who is on the complete opposite side of the spectrum when it comes to online schooling. “I have too many distractions going on as opposed to just being in a classroom.” 

Even with a vast majority of students learning to function and coexist with their new routes of education, many are missing the everyday hospitalities of going to school in person.

“I just miss being with my friends and doing normal activities in high school,” said senior Shane Chaudle. “I’m not excited about how strict it’s going to be going back to school as well.” 

Junior Keymira Hendricks feels the same way, “You don’t have to deal with people on an everyday basis anymore, but it’s lonely because you looked forward to seeing those friends and having those social activities at school.”

For some students, a central focus point of virtual schooling has been the pace they have been able to complete their work, and nearly everybody works at a different speed in correlation to themselves and how they learn. 

“I like virtual learning not only because it’s safer, but I also get to get my work done by going at my own pace.” said sophomore Isaiah Childress. 

Yet, on the other hand, you have another sophomore, Christopher Skelton, that said, “I don’t like how unexplained the work is and how fast it is overall, and I feel like we’re getting more work just because we’re at home.” 

The thoughts and opinions of how students felt about physically going back to school so early in November were the most important of all. The hybrid format, how you would navigate the school itself, how you would get help from teachers, what the guidelines would be, and everything else.

“I do like that we’re going back to school, but they need to make sure we’re all going to be safe there,” said junior Edgar Greer. “Space us out and make sure the classrooms are clean.”

Sophomore Landon Connor added, “I don’t like the hybrid plan at all, partly because of the safety concerns, but also I won’t be able to see my friends because of the alphabetical order. So no, I won’t be going back to school.” 

Knowing how complicated and messy COVID-19 has been for the entire world, it was never a doubt how intricate and complex it would be to bottle down a plan moving forward for just one county. The mixed reviews, the conflicted emotions, and the handling of virtual schooling for students across Chester were going to be chaotic. 

However, moving forward to the due date of the incorporation of physical schooling back into our lives in a few weeks, all we can hope for as a county, as a student body and faculty, and as human beings, is that all goes well. We need it to go well. 

It has been exhausting and ruthless the past nine months for everybody affected by this pandemic. If we can come together and make things work for the betterment of society as a whole, even if that means just doing your part as a single body, then we need to make it happen. 




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