I wake up every weekday at 7:45 a.m. and immediately log on to Canvas (the Long Beach school platform) and start my first zoom of the day. I spend the remainder of the day there, provided I don’t have any other engagements.
This is the reality for many students at Wilson High School. I am a junior in the WAVE Program, the most rigorous program at Wilson. Throughout my high school career I have somehow managed to make straight A's, with the exception of two B’s. The only reason I have managed to make straight A’s so far this school year is because I am literally pushing myself to the breaking point, as I imagine many students are doing as well.
Even during regular school I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself, but distance learning requires me to push myself even further to stay motivated and on top of things. This year, I am taking four AP classes, one honors math class, and Spanish 7-8, all from the comfort of my own bed. But it is in no way comfortable.
In actuality, I find it very difficult to do my school work from home. Doing your work from home, especially your bedroom, makes it challenging to stay motivated, or even stay awake.
Scientific studies show that mixing work and home leads to anxiety because you associate work with the place that is supposed to be your sanctuary from all the stress. It all seems to blend together. You wake up and go right to school instead of getting up an hour before, showering, changing clothes, brushing your teeth, and getting yourself to school where you face a variety of surroundings from class to class.
In my case, I see the same four walls from 7:45 a.m. until 1 p.m. Even though I would be on the same campus at Wilson, I would see about 200 different faces in my classes and 4,000 every day walking around campus. This variety is what makes school entertaining.
Although in-person school is taxing on everyone, distance learning has only brought out the worst in school. The stress and anxiety that school naturally brings is increased tenfold. You don’t get to talk to your friends that you would only get to see in class, you don’t get to build a relationship with your teachers, and you hardly even see your classmates' faces.
Having a relationship with your teachers can be very important, especially for high school juniors, when it comes to college recommendation letters. Over zoom, you don’t get to see much of anyone’s personality.
Specific to Wilson, Jan. 6 and 7 are asynchronous (no zoom meeting but teachers still administer assignments over Canvas), but this time, no assignments are given so that students can catch up on missing assignments. This shows just how hard it is for every student to stay driven.
The mental health of students is declining as a direct result of staying home all day and staring at a computer screen for 6 hours a day. The missing hustle and bustle of campus leaves a gaping hole in our need for human interaction.
Furthermore, no homework was allowed to be given over Winter Break to give students a chance to rejuvenate and relax. You may be thinking, “That’s awesome!” However, it is just another example of how distance learning has driven us to the point of needing two full weeks to finally catch our breath.
As much as school stresses me out, it gives me something to do and keeps my brain active. Coupled with a global pandemic, we have pretty much nothing to do over break except sit and stare at our phones, which leads to a whole other plethora of mental health issues.
What else can we do, but suffer through distance learning as the number of cases rise every day in LA County?
Cameron Bennett is a junior at Wilson High School.