By Eric Wickboldt
After a year of online learning, Las Lomas opened up to students and staff on Tuesday, March 16, as part of the newly instituted hybrid schedule. Students were divided into three cohorts: cohorts A and B, which meet up in school on Tuesday and Thursday and Wednesday and Friday, respectively, and cohort C, which is an entirely distance-learning group of students that opted out of in-person learning entirely. This change in attendance also came with a new layout of periods: periods 1, 2, 3 and 7 take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, and periods 4, 5, 6 and 0 take place on Thursday and Friday. School now starts at 8:30, pauses in the middle for an 80-minute lunch and mandatory Academy break during which in-person attendees can go to Academy with their teachers, and ends at 3:20 on Tuesday and Wednesday for those with a 7th period and 1:55 for those whose for those with no 7th period on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and those with a 6th period on Thursdays and Fridays. These changes come following a decrease of COVID-19 cases in Contra Costa County, which caused the hazard level of the coronavirus to decrease from the purple tier to the red. Student opinions on this shift to hybrid are currently mixed.
According to a survey of 30 Las Lomas students, 22 of which returned to campus as part of cohort A or B, 14 of those that returned to campus (63.6%) prefer the hybrid model. Five of those that are part of cohort A or B (22.7%) prefer attending school through Zoom, and the remaining three (13.6%) don’t have a preference.
Sophomore Tyler Mills, who returned to campus for the hybrid model, commented, “I’m probably going to switch back to Zoom, right now there’s no added benefit of being in class rather than Zoom, it’s just colder, more tiring and no academic benefits come with it.”
By contrast, Sophomore Bogdan Yaremenko supports hybrid, saying, “Hybrid may be a hassle for the teachers, but I think it is very much worth it; I love coming back on campus and the fact that it’s only two days each week just makes it feel more special.”
While the majority of those enrolled in hybrid learning like it, the earlier start times are presenting complications to students. 19 of 30 (63.3%) of those that responded to the survey said that they had not been able to get enough sleep to properly adjust to the earlier start times, which are 30 minutes earlier on Tuesday and Thursday and 90 minutes earlier on Wednesday and Friday than they were previously.
Some students are also dissatisfied with the fact that their teachers’ attentions are split: five respondents (16.7%) felt that in-person students are getting a disproportionate amount of attention, while eight respondents (26.7%) felt that online students were getting a disproportionate amount of attention. A slight majority of survey-takers, 17 (56.7%), thought that both groups were getting the amount of attention they needed.
Lastly, when asked whether they thought students and faculty were doing an effective job of following and enforcing the COVID-19 safety rules and regulations, 12 of the 22 that returned to campus (54.6%) answered that campus members were doing an effective job, nine (40.9%) answered that they are doing a slightly effective job, and the final respondent (4.5%) answered that campus members are doing an ineffective job of following and enforcing these rules.
One anonymous sophomore reflected on the pros and cons of distance learning: “While I enjoy distanced learning, I can also recognize the many flaws it has. As much fun as it has been waking up minutes before school starts, and eating whatever I have at home during lunch, it’s not a sustainable way of teaching. While I have done well, many people require a better environment for learning than the same room all day.”
Overall, a majority of Las Lomas students have received the hybrid model well, except that most students find it difficult to get the proper amount of sleep to adjust to the new schedule. It may be the impetus of the administration to make in-person learning more appealing in general, hybrid or not, as many students simply prefer the online learning model and may find it jarring or dismaying to return to campus for the 2021-2022 school year. For now, the best that can be done is to deal with the current problems and hope something better lies for next year. As senior Ani Jamgotchian puts it, “I think the hybrid model has been a success for those who returned and I hope that next year will be better for the underclassmen.”