Since March 13, 2020, Ventura Unified School District (Ventura Unified) students, as well as students around the United States have been participating in school online as a result of social distancing precaution to slow the spread of COVID-19. Normal, day to day high school is already stressful enough; throw a global pandemic and school shut-down into the mix and you are set for disaster.
Ventura Unified utilized the platform Edgenuity for students to finish the school year online. Edgenuity performed inadequately by reducing enriching and interesting classes to poorly functioning videos and quizzes. In addition, the Edgenuity website students used for class experienced a system-wide outage on March 18.
Many classes on Edgenuity required students to complete multiple activities per day in order to keep up with their time table. If students did not perfectly stay on top of their assignments, logging onto Edgenuity became increasingly more demoralizing as their grades sunk into lower and lower percentages. Even if a student put in work and effort every day, their grades would still lower if they did not complete the number of activities that Edgenuity required. Watching grades go down had a negative effect on one’s mental health, adding to the stress of living in a pandemic.
Not every home can provide the support needed for their child’s education. For many students, school is where they find academic and personal support. If a teen has a difficult home life, they might not have the opportunity within their home to perform at Edgenuity’s academic standards. A lot of resources commonly used, such as Zoom, can be difficult to navigate, and without parental help are even harder to use.
Although holding lessons on Zoom does not perfectly recreate a Foothill Technology High School (FTHS) classroom atmosphere, they are a step in the right direction, away from platforms like Edgenuity. If the 2020-2021 school year is going to start at least partially online, teachers must have more control over their students’ education.
Even if online learning platforms are not working, teachers as a whole did a great job. In addition to their own families and situations to worry about, most FTHS teachers were ready to help students with online classes as well as managing other school responsibilities and stress. The ability to connect with teachers at a time like this was absolutely essential to students’ success. The district should have allowed teachers to hold Zoom classes as they saw necessary from the beginning of the closures.
One of the best parts of the end of a year of high school is standing back and thinking about all of the hard work you did over the year. Without this feeling of accomplishment, it isn’t surprising that students are left feeling empty as the school year comes to a close.
From May 11 to May 22, modified Advanced Placement (AP) tests were administered by the College Board. Thousands of test-takers were confronted with difficulties when they attempted to submit their AP tests. In order to request a retake test in June, an email had to be sent to the College Board within 48 hours of the test that they could not submit. According to the College Board, less than one percent experienced difficulties turning in tests in the first week of testing, and the number of students ranges from 2,186 to 21,860 students across the United States. The chance of not being able to turn in AP tests makes the exams even more stressful than they already are. If students are going to be paying 94 dollars per AP test, the College Board needs to do better.
On April 28, the Ventura Unified school board decided that high school quarter four grades would be no lower than quarter three grades, however, students could work through Edgenuity to raise their grades. Students have been encouraged to continue to use Edgenuity until the end of the school year regardless of their grades. This ruling raises countless questions. Is it fair that students with high grades from quarter three could slack off for the rest of the year? And is it fair to teachers who had already made plans for the rest of the year? On the other hand, taking pressure off of school could help students who have jobs or are helping out their family. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on the school board’s ruling.
The direction Ventura Unified is taking for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year is currently unknown to the public, but hopefully students will be able to at least partially return to the classroom at some point in the future.
Editorials reflect a majority opinion of the 11-person Editorial Review Board and are written collaboratively.