Hybrid Learning

Courtesy+of+Amelia+Lee+%2722.

Amelia Lee '22

Courtesy of Amelia Lee ’22.

With 61 of 384 students opting for online learning, what fall term at Groton will look like for remote learners is still largely unknown. Unlike last spring term, where all of the Groton community was online, the Circle during this fall will be separated into students on campus and those in remote learning. Although the two experiences will be drastically different, faculty at Groton are trying their best to minimize the differences and distance between the two groups of students.
Fall term’s schedule would be similar to that of a regular fall term’s schedule. Chapel will be at 8:30 a.m., followed by a series of classes from 8:45 a.m to 3:30 p.m. However, classes would be from 5 to noon for those on the West Coast and from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. for those in Asia.
To account for time zones, Groton designed the day so that students in distant communities could join synchronously for three to four meeting blocks a day, while homework would run on an asynchronous schedule. Those on the west coast would skip the first class while students in Asia would miss the last. Recordings will be available and students are required to watch them.
Students made the choice to study remotely for a range of reasons. Some would be able to avoid lengthy and tedious flights, where the risk of getting Covid-19 would magnify, or the 14-day quarantine before arriving on campus. Groton also requested an emergency contact for families who live more than 300 miles away.
“We did not feel comfortable asking a family friend [or] friend’s family nearby to take me in (in case of an outbreak), as it might compromise their health,” revealed Janice Zhai ’21, a student from Hong Kong, who will not be returning in the fall. An email from Groton outlining the guidelines of going back to school also mentioned that those who play club sports should carefully consider their plans before going onto campus, as they will not be able to participate in out of school activities.
“I chose not to go back because of sports restrictions as I want to play AAU basketball as well as go to the gym,” said Calie Messina ’22.
Despite these restrictions, many students have expressed their eagerness to return to campus as they say being at school, compared to online classes, gives them the structure to be productive.
“I personally found that with online learning, I had much more trouble focusing both in classes and on getting my work done, and I figured that those problems would only be amplified having a longer class day in front of the screen,” mentioned Aine Ley’22.
Others have also said that going back to campus will give them the chance to cultivate intimate relationships with both the students and teachers on campus compared to an online environment.
“Returning to campus will not only give me the structure that I need to be productive, but it will also allow me to see my friends in person again,” said Chloe Zheng ’23.
“One of the biggest reasons for going to the Circle is that I miss the community life and that living with a group of other kids is one of the best things,” said Lucas Li’23, a new student arriving on the Circle this fall.
However, with different time zones and schedule changes, some are concerned about the one-on-one interaction that usually happens within the community. Even in a classroom setting, given the restrictions, students will have a hard time interacting with classmates in group work or talking to a teacher. “The social distancing rules will most likely not permit group work inside the classroom,” Anthony Wright’22 expressed. Indeed, this concern was made true by the classroom social distancing rule. According to Ms. Leggat, students will be placed 6 feet apart while always looking towards the whiteboard, which will not allow them to turn and face each other, much less work in a group together.
On the other hand, online school forces students to interact with their friends in front of screens. “It will be difficult to reach out to people for help or study together except for phone calls,” said Calie Messina’22.
For students not returning to campus, reaching out to teachers might also become an issue. Although Calie believes that “teachers will most likely always be available for help.”
Despite not being on campus, students in remote learning will be able to experience most of the same activities as those on-campus. Club meetings or events which happen during Flex blocks will be available on Zoom and students in remote learning will be able to join. The Student Activities Committee is also planning virtual events during the weekends which will maintain a sense of community despite being in different locations.
Even though our community will be separated by the hybrid learning system, Groton will continue to put in their best efforts in order to minimize the differences between online and in-person classes and allow the Circle to feel no different to students hundreds of miles away.