Hybrid, remote students should maintain communication with each other

+Losing+social+connection+is+harmful+and+students+need+to+fight+to+keep+communicating+despite+new+barriers%2C+writes+reporter+Clare+O%27Connor.%0A

Midway staff

Losing social connection is harmful and students need to fight to keep communicating despite new barriers, writes reporter Clare O’Connor.

Clare O'Connor, Reporter

After almost a year of distance learning, on March 8 some U-High students will begin a hybrid learning system that will bring each hybrid-learner to the campus for two days every two weeks along with the other hybrid-learners in their grade. Other students are making the difficult choice to opt out of this long-awaited opportunity, remaining in distance learning due to health concerns or other personal reasons.

These separate learning models will create further division, which is why students must work together to continue communicating with classmates who are on other sides of the hybrid/online divide.

Optional hybrid learning puts the student body into two separate groups as in-person students have more time to spend with each other and less time to be on their computers talking with friends in between classes or after school. This arrangement will result in a second wave of social isolation for students continuing distance learning.

Since the start of distance learning, 42.9% of Lab middle and high school students feel that they are performing worse than they usually do, according to Lab’s January “All School Survey.” While the hybrid option is meant to remedy some of this decline, the social separation that damages focus and mental health will increase for many students, especially students who remain online as they watch from their homes while their peers interact in person.

While this challenge seems insurmountable, students have been persistent in finding creative ways to stay connected during online learning — such as making online game nights or setting times for study session calls — and will be able to continue supporting each other even as the partial return creates more separation.

Lab students should seek out friends who might feel isolated and commit themselves to communication goals, such as calling three online friends a week or talking to three hybrid friends about class. Communication has always been hard for teenagers, and right now there are ever-growing challenges that make connecting with peers even harder. Losing social connection is harmful and students need to fight to keep communicating despite new barriers.