Due to the widespread coronavirus pandemic, many aspects of our daily lives have been adjusted to fit a new normal. In order to comply with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and keep everyone safe, many schools across the globe have transitioned to virtual learning to start the 2020-2021 school year.
Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School join their first class on Microsoft Teams at 8:30 a.m. and are allowed to sign off their computers at 3:10 p.m., with 5 minutes between each class and a half hour for lunch at 11:35 a.m.. Students follow the same block schedule as they had in previous years, attending four classes a day for 90 minutes each; unlike last year, students are forced to sit in front of the computer for several hours- five days a week.
Throughout the school day, students listen to lectures, take notes, complete assignments, perform group work and are tested on the information they have been taught, all of which helps improve their knowledge on the topics and keep them active during the school day. In the midst of this, students barely get any breaks during the day; as soon as school is completed, students must now get to work on their homework for the day.
Students receive a few hours of homework every night, whether it is from their core classes or electives, making their time spent on school increase. The amount of schoolwork students get goes hand-in-hand with the time they must spend on their computer; the more assignments they have, the more hours they must sit with their device.
According to a research project done by Mayo Clinic, those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying by obesity or smoking.
Sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time can have many effects on a student’s body, health and mood. Bad posture, poor circulation of blood, reduced social skills, loneliness and low energy expenditure are just a few of the many consequences that can affect students after sitting at their computer all day.
Many students have resorted to using blue light glasses, which are glasses with lenses that block or absorb blue light from getting through, as a way to prevent them from getting headaches after staring at the screens for long periods of time.
Due to the already promised seven hours of school, students should not receive homework during virtual learning, in any subject. This will give students from 3:10 p.m. and on to complete anything to their choosing and take a much needed break to support their mental and physical health. Students would have an opportunity to exercise, read a book, spend time with their families or take a well deserved nap.
Students will not be the only ones positively affected by this change. Teachers spend plenty of their time out of school hours, grading and entering assignments that are done for homework. Having no homework would give teachers an opportunity to recharge and rejuvenate for the following days.
Having free time is such an important aspect for not only students but teachers. After being inside and alone all day, it is important that everyone is exposed to others, whether it is their family or friends.
Along with this, it is extremely important that everyone receives a chance to spend time outside, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Being in nature is vital to physical and mental health. Mental health is incredibly important for everyone and should be focused on, especially during these unprecedented times.
No homework should be given during virtual learning to give both students and teachers an opportunity to relax and unwind from their day of online learning. It is crucial that they receive this time so side effects, such as bad posture and poor social skills, do not occur. Everyone needs a little break sometimes, regardless of the circumstances.
Graphic created by Madison Lenard & Delaney Walker