It has been nearly 3 weeks since the introduction of Zoom, a video conference platform, has taken over our education; all students have had to adjust to new classroom settings and schedules. The usual schedule of forty-five minute periods, with two ten minute breaks throughout the day, is no longer; Hillel zoom education gives either five or six classes each day, with a ten-minute break in between each. Having not all their classes on the same day has unquestionably altered the way a student feels toward school in general. Giving ten-minute breaks in between each class gives students a break to use the restroom, eat a snack, and time to finish work or get a “head start” in other classes. Given that the online school schedule ends at either 11:30 or 12:10, students are rewarded the afternoon to either finish schoolwork or relax while in quarantine. A breath of air in between lessons as well as a relaxing afternoon, not only benefits students’ behavior in classes but serves to prevent stress caused by the overload of work. Regularly, students were piled with homework from their many classes, while also having extracurricular activities. Being on zoom has allowed all to level down on procrastination, and get right to the task without feeling much stress.
A freshman at Scheck Hillel, Michelle Sutton has had to adjust to virtual school as have many others. She states, “Having a zoom class for everything has been so different. It’s like one big face-time call with everyone. I think my favorite part of having everything online is that it’s easier to work by myself at home than transferring to different classrooms throughout the day.” Transitioning to the online school system, many students have taken notice of the increased use of technology as materials in opposition to physical notebooks or writing utensils. The keyboard has eclipsed the pencil; the computer eclipsed composition notebooks. Freshman Lee Peleg says, “I used to carry thousands of binders in my bag that looked as if the whole thing was about to burst. Having classes on zoom means that everything is mostly done on the computer with the occasional one piece of paper and pencil.” This metamorphosis we have endured has decreased the use of paper as a means of submitting work, and increased the use of dropbox; this makes students more organized as well. Andrea Berti exclaims, “I absolutely love the way to turn our homework in. By taking pictures and submitting them through an online dropbox, I am able to get rid of all the piling paper which is no longer needed after submission.”
With teachers scrambling to adjust their curricula to accommodate the new online platform, the amount of work for each class may vary through time. Many took notice of how teachers increased their workload exponentially at first in fear of “falling behind schedule,” but calmed down as this became the new norm. Hannah Azulay, a Freshman at Scheck Hillel, says, “The first week was pretty hectic. I felt as if I was doing my homework all day long except for dinner and some exercise. I also feel that as time has passed we have worked along with our teachers to make our time on zoom very beneficial.” At Scheck Hillel Community School, students are given the opportunity to have a study hall; this is a time to finish homework, study, or get ahead on school material. Being that these students enrolled in study hall are now learning via zoom, the nature of it has morphed. Another Freshman in Scheck Hillel, Sophia Lustigman says, “Since I have finished most of my classes already, I was given a study hall which was later transferred onto my zoom schedule. Before starting our learning on zoom, I received an email saying that I will not have to log in to zoom for study hall and I am able to have the period free to myself.” Having this free period alone has benefitted Sophia greatly; she claims her focus is unbroken during the thirty-minute period, and so she is able to get more work done.
Zoom has served as a beacon of hope to all schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. After careful observation, students can be seen to be happy with this solution. Virtual school has proved to reduce stress, increase focus, and increase overall productivity in a distraction-free environment. Technology has overshadowed traditional school materials, and online homework submission via dropbox has increased organization. The unintended benefits that online school has brought, as evident in Scheck Hillel students, may change the concept of education forever; amidst this global crisis, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.