After two short months of summer break, it’s now time to go back to school. The end of the last school year was quite hectic for most students as they suddenly had to switch to a virtual world of online school, and everyone seemed to have believed that school was finally going to go back to normal due to the low number of people testing positive for the coronavirus daily here in Korea. But just as everything seemed to be shaping up, our plans were suddenly dashed when the number of coronavirus infections increased dramatically over a span of a couple days.
For Seoul Foreign School, August 17, 2020 was supposed to be the first official day of school but due to the sudden jump in coronavirus cases in Korea, the opening was postponed by one day. It felt odd enough that the first day of school was cancelled, but we were later notified that we would have to follow a special schedule when we returned to school to help ensure the safety of students. Seoul Foreign School’s schedule is set in an A-B format where different classes are held on each day, but to make it safer, they decided to hold classes for two days, and then do online learning for the next two days, and repeat that cycle.
|[My sister on an online learning day. Photo courtesy of Clare Sohn.]|
After experiencing this cycle, I wondered whether I was back in the online world of learning or back in normal school as it felt weird to not physically be in school every day. Thankfully, my first day of school was in class, making it feel like a normal day, other than the fact that we were not allowed to talk during lunch, and that barriers were placed in front of us to prevent the spread of germs while eating. Due to the “no mask, no talk” policy, it was a little bit awkward at first, but everyone seemed to adapt as time went by.
On my second day of school, I had virtual learning, which made me think back to March when it was the daily norm. I woke up at 7:30 a.m. a little rejoiced that I got to sleep in an extra hour and then proceeded with my normal morning routine. By 8 a.m., I was sitting at my desk with my laptop in front of me waiting for my live classes to begin. I was startled by the workload that the teachers gave us, but on second thought, I realized that I would have been given the same workload if I had been sitting at my desk in school. After experiencing virtual learning for months, the teachers had learned ways of keeping students on task, which led to me basically having normal school but at home because I was expected to join calls when my normal classes started, and stay on each call, doing the classwork given to us, until the class was over.
|[On virtual learning days, this is how I would wait for classes to begin.
Photo Courtesy of Clare Sohn.]
Currently, I am still on the schedule of having virtual learning for two days and at-school classes for two days and still have a long list of questions as to how this is going to work and until when we will have to do it. After one week, the biggest problem I worried about was what would happen if I accidentally went to school on a virtual learning day. Just the thought of that scares me. But, I think this schedule helps keep students through socially distancing while still giving us the normal feeling of everyday classes at school. By experiencing both types of learning, I think that I may learn and benefit from each as time goes on.
Through virtual learning, I am experiencing our future as technology is dominating our society. However, other than the obvious benefit of saving time not having to travel back and forth to school, I personally prefer normal school. I miss sitting in class and looking at the teacher in front of us, even if I may zone out from time to time. As I mentioned earlier, I think that there are significant differences between being at school in person and taking classes virtually. But if I end up having to switch to a full-time online school schedule, I think that I may feel very excluded and lonely as I am isolated and stuck in my room for most of the day just talking at my laptop.
Seoul Foreign School
Clare Sohn email@example.com
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