Triad Students Reflect On A Year Of Remote Learning

Triad Students Reflect On A Year Of Remote Learning

7:00am Mar 15, 2021
Whitaker Elementary School second grader Carter Shay busy at work during his remote learning unit. Shay's spent most of the school year studying from home due to the pandemic. Photograph courtesy of Michael Shay.

One year ago, schools all across North Carolina began shutting their doors and pivoting to remote learning to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Over the next twelve months, Zoom and Canvas became household words as students attempted to study from home. And now, many of them are returning to the classroom.

WFDD caught up with four elementary and high schoolers in the Triad who share this look back on learning long-distance.  

Sydney French attends first grade at Greensboro’s Sternberger Elementary. Not being at school this year has been tough, says her father, Brian French.

“We could tell when we were sitting at home early on in the pandemic and watching Sydney go through online school with the Zoom palette of 13 different kids in 13 different squares, it just simply was not conducive to anybody’s attention span,” says French. “Having an in-person teacher in with other kids in the room, everybody’s more focused.”

In describing her experience with online education, Sydney French is blunter.

“It’s worse. I like in-person school better than it.”

And she adds that she quickly tired of computer learning.

“I don't like Heggarty,” says French. “Heggerty's this video — Heggerty  Phonemic Awareness with Mrs. VanHekken. Cat! Hat! Matt! Rhyming words. It's kind of weird.”

At the high school level, Weaver Academy ninth-grader Xul Rutty was equally frustrated learning from home in Greensboro.

“It's difficult,” he says. “There’s much less interaction, so it's much more separated, and much less opportunity to actually learn. You feel like you’re doing busywork. I mean, I might have learned something, but I really didn’t feel like I learned much.”

But Rutty also sees some benefits from independently learning.

“It’s a new experience,” he says. “You had to have a much more organized work ethic, and you were much more relaxed in the sense that you were at home. You could do other stuff in between breaks. You could go grab something to eat anytime. So in some ways, it was more stressful and others it was more relaxed.”

Carter Shay is a second-grader at Whitaker Elementary School in Winston-Salem. He too sees the good and the bad in learning from home.

“I sort of liked it a little because we got longer breaks when we were on the computer — like I watched some TV, I played with my sister,” says Shay. “But like I don’t get to play with my friends at school. Sometimes I’d get to bring some Beyblades and I get to play with them. They spin around and whoever spins the longest wins.”

Making new friends was what Weaver Academy ninth-grader Mora Rutty (Xul Rutty’s twin sister) missed the most during her first year of high school.

“I look at it as a very interesting experience that hopefully I will never have to experience again,” says Rutty. “There was very little interaction, mainly because I guess many of the students didn’t want to turn on their cameras.”

But for Rutty, who recently returned to in-person learning on Thursdays and Fridays, there was one silver lining from the pandemic.

“During this whole experience it was actually kind of nice in the sense that I was definitely able to spend more time with my family,” she says. “Because usually we’re just crazy during the school year driving here, and over there. But we were just in one place and we really had a nice thing going on here in our home since we had to stay in our home.”

Support your
public radio station