The Stress of Virtual Learning


Jeneva Craig, Reporter

The stress levels of students have been affected due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic and the new school plan. Students take classes fully online or in a hybrid schedule, which can lead to changes in mental health.

At the beginning of the year, administration offered families the choice between a hybrid, in- person schedule and an all-online program called ViPR. Freshman Maddison Taylor is enrolled in ViPR, and she has had to learn how to complete her work with limited assistance from teachers.

“The teachers aren’t that great at explaining assignments, so you pretty much have to figure out assignments by yourself,” said Taylor.

Taylor is not the only one who has been having problems with online work. Each student’s schedule is different, and the changes can take their toll on students. Junior Laine Schmalzried is enrolled for in-person instruction, but she also has online classes and is enrolled at the Cass Career Center. She deals with the stress of her schedule by planning out her day.

“On my virtual classwork days, I have classes at Cass Career Center from 7:00-11:00, so when I get home, I gather all of my supplies and work in my dining room. I start with whichever assignments I can knock out fastest. Then, I work on my more time consuming assignments. I have been good about sticking to this schedule,” said Schmalzried.

Teachers have also been affected by the pandemic as they have had to change their lessons to be applicable online. They have also had to prioritize communication via email to be able to help students during any time of the day. Teachers and students may also communicate with each other through Google Meets. Hybrid and ViPR English teacher Emily Craig has dealt with some challenges while teaching in this new normal.

“I am a perfectionist. It’s been tough because students have to respond over email or Google Meets. It’s hard because I feel like I can’t reach them. It’s hard to create a relationship with them. There is a lot more prep work over the week and weekends,” said Craig.

Online work can be very stressful for some students, whether it is the amount of work or the topics the students have to learn online. The amount of work can also be stressful, and many students believe it is more work than they would get if they were in person. Most online classes include video instruction, practice work, and scheduled communication times. Taylor has had struggles with some of her classes online.

“My parenting class and my math class are really hard to learn online. Parenting class puts out many assignments that take very long to complete. If I were in-person it would be an hour class, but virtually it is like two hours of instruction and work. My math class has good instruction, but the practice work doesn’t match up with what we are going over in class,” said Taylor.

School may be stressful, but students find ways to rest and relax. Finding a way to cope with the stress caused by the pandemic and working from home can take some weight off students’ shoulders. Students can get relief from feeling overworked by taking breaks or finding a calming outlet. Schmalzried finds time to relax after completing her school work.

“After I’m done with schoolwork I like to talk with friends and watch Tik Tok,” said Schmalzried.

Teachers work their hardest to help students understand school work online. The setup of assignments helps students know where to find resources and tries to be clear on what work needs to get done on what day. Many teachers have also been more lenient with due dates because they understand online work is harder with less communication. Craig plans out her classwork for students in advance to lessen stress.

“Everything is ready for the week. I have a suggested schedule that walks through the week’s schoolwork. I have one-on-one meetings with my students to see where they are. I have been flexible with my students on due dates to make them less overwhelmed,” said Craig.

For most online students, having motivation is the biggest challenge they face. Taking initiative and working on assignments while there are so many outside distractions can be very difficult. While doing classes at home, students lose interest in what they are doing, which could make students fall behind in their courses. Schmalzried works hard to do online even with distractions.

“The hardest thing about online work is that I don’t really have the motivation to do it. When I am at home there are so many things I want to do when I’m home that I don’t want to do my work,” said Schmalzried.

This year can leave students feeling beaten down, and online work can add more stress. While this year’s new school format can cause stress, when a student feels overwhelmed, they can talk to their teachers and try to find a solution to their stress.