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  • Mai Miyashita

Students and Teachers React to Distance Learning at Athens Academy

Coronavirus is causing a lot of disruption worldwide. In the second week of March, Georgia’s governor announced the closing of the entire public school system in Georgia. Athens Academy decided to close from March 16 until the end of April and to transition to online school via Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Google Classroom.

The sudden transition from day school to online school was very challenging for both teachers and students. Teachers had a meeting to consider how online teaching would be efficient for students. While some teachers decided to teach via Zoom, others gave assignments via email.

Students and teachers had to adjust to a new routine and learning format. Communicating and teaching only online is much more difficult compared to communicating face-to-face because of technology challenges. For instance, students sometimes cannot log into Zoom.

Besides technological difficulties, there have been many positive opinions for using Zoom. For example, Upper School English teacher Dr. Katherine Barrow said, “I have really liked the ability to see and interact with my students on Zoom. I have missed their energy, intellect, and humor. It’s great to see their faces.”

Many students prefer studying from home; they do not have to wake up early in the morning and get out of school earlier than usual. Since most of the teachers end class early, students have more time to do their individual work. Teachers are also enjoying the flexibility offered by the new schedule.

“It is also nice to have my kitchen right next to my classroom for when I am hungry or thirsty,” said Upper School French teacher Jami Cashin.

Many teachers have reduced the amount of work for students in order to not overwhelm them. They are trying to focus on the quality of work rather than quantity.

“I think it’s great how our school has structured online classes, not randomly assigning us works due at the end of the day. Of course, it’s not ideal since we are not meeting in person, but I think it’s as close as we can get,” sophomore Ingrid Nilsson said.

As this situation continues, not seeing each other in person is emotionally tough for both students and teachers. Remaining positive will help students and teachers during this transition. Dr. Barrow believes that taking things one day at a time is especially important.

“Well, my mother always told me: ‘Inch by inch, life's a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard.’ So I guess my advice would be to take this new normal inch by inch. We can do it,” Dr. Barrow said.