Photo courtesy of Phil Roeder

Hybrid education begins around the country bringing new success and challenges to many.

          Imagine that it is mid October, 2020. Many students begin to set a routine and get comfortable with online school while many find further difficulty with the matter. Because of issues such as home life, siblings, and other outside distractions, many students understandably found online education to be problematic and difficult.

          As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses and the world continues to adapt to new circumstances, schools around the world are returning to some form of in-person education. 

          Many see this as the beginning of a return to normalcy throughout the country as the pandemic continues onto its second consecutive year. While many students are returning to schools, teachers face new challenges and find new positive outcomes with the introduction of hybrid education. 

          At Westfield, students began the return back to school in mid-March,  starting with Seniors and Freshmen and ending the transition with Sophomores and Juniors. Both students and teachers have seen ups and downs with the introduction of hybrid education. 

          For instance, many students find the strict guidelines for social distancing and contact tracing difficult to replicate the same learning environment to pre-pandemic schooling. 

          Teachers, already facing many challenges with distance learning, now face new challenges with hybrid education. They must face these new factors with minimal guidance as everyone is going through this experience for the first time. The amount of work that it takes teachers to successfully pull off teaching students both at home and in the classroom is astounding.

          Mr. Donnelly, Physics teacher, elaborates, “From a teacher’s perspective it is a lot of work.  Every assignment is new.  Every lesson is new.  For many teachers it required a complete change in the very way they teach.” 

          In addition to new assignments and classwork, teachers must also keep students both at home and in the classroom engaged in classroom conversations and activities. 

          Mrs. Mortensen, Math Teacher, states, “The hardest thing for me is making sure that I am equally dividing my attention between my “homies” and “roomies””. 

          Nicole Roberts, 11, says, “You can’t teach the kids in schools more than the kids at home. Each half needs to have the same advantages as the other”.

          While there have been many challenges with hybrid education, there have also been many successes. Students who previously had difficulties with strictly online learning are finding a better learning environment back at school. 

          “For several students who have returned to in-person learning, I have already seen increased engagement from them just by being in the classroom whereas before they might have been caught “ghosting” a few times.  For some, it is so hard to focus at home with all the distractions and lack of structure, so being in-person can alleviate most of that.” says Mrs. Mortensen

          As the struggles of the pandemic continue for many, students across the country begin to find comfort in their education with the return to school in a hybrid education setting. Nationwide, thousands of students are starting the return to normalcy that is desperately needed within the country.