Online Classes Become a New Normal for JVHS

Angela Lim

COVID-19 has transformed everyone’s lives–and to describe this 2020-2021 school year as different would be an understatement. Various modified policies and changes were implemented in order to ensure the safety of Jersey Village High School’s students and staff.
“My initial reaction was one of wondering what this year was going to look like and if it was really going to happen,” Julie Villarreal, teacher and senior sponsor, said.
Notably, JVHS, along with other CFISD schools, has adopted online classes as an option for student instruction (aside from onsite classes). Teachers guide online and onsite students simultaneously.
In contrast with Google Classroom being used as the main online platform for communication during the previous spring semester, the school now uses Schoology, and synchronized classes are conducted regularly through Zoom.
“Schoology isn’t terribly difficult, but it’s a big change from Google. We’d gotten used to Google and had set up our Google classrooms and used that system for several years, so moving everything to Schoology is an adjustment,” Villarreal said.
Several other challenges hinder the school body as they navigate through this new normal. For example, some classes do not work as effectively off-campus as they do in-person. Joelyn Laughlin, art teacher, worked on revising her lesson plans as a way to accommodate all of her students, regardless of the learning option they chose.
“I have been teaching for 21 years and I have had to rethink everything that I do, as well as redesign lessons for online use. Art is very hands-on, so making online connections has been more challenging,” Laughlin said.
Attendance has been another issue and more difficult to keep track of as students either stay in school or at home for their classes. Teachers ensure that they stay accurate in checking who is present. This usually takes a few minutes at the beginning of a class period.
“We have students in the classroom and students popping in for Zoom meetings and daily engagement checks on top of that, so it’s more to monitor,” Villarreal said.
The atmosphere of the classes differ as well. With students and staff required to minimize contact with one another, they become less lively compared to previous years. JVHS has enacted such safety procedures as a method of protection for those on campus.
“There is a certain camaraderie that students have when they are in class together. [However], my students in class are so quiet since they are socially distanced,” Laughlin said.
Teachers work on fixing this situation by having students engage in class discussions together, promoting social interaction and collaboration, whether in school or at home.
“It’s harder to get good discussions going when some students are on Zoom and some are in the classroom. We’re working on getting students used to talking to each other in the Zoom breakout rooms, but that takes time and practice,” Villarreal said.
Overall, the first few weeks of the academic year has been used to ease the school into its new system of learning. It cannot be described as perfect for now, but it will become easier as everyone gradually becomes used to it.