Is there a distinct difference in quality and difficulty between virtual and in person learning?

May 12, 2021

Mckinsey & Co. estimated that about 60% of k-12 students began the 2020-2021 school year fully remote, 20% started with a hybrid schedule and the other 20% went immediately to in person classes based on a survey of 13,000 public school districts across America. Despite virtual learning being the most common option, many parents throughout the country have protested to send their children back to in-person learning, stating that “…their own experiences confirm research showing that children are being harmed academically, emotionally and physically by the isolation of remote learning.” While some continue to push for full, in-person schooling, others are willing to wait but continue to claim that “…while remote learning may be necessary, districts have failed to provide their children with quality remote learning.”

Within both rhetorics, they cite the students’ lack of passion for learning as well as the impending effects of learning loss.  A CDC study stated that Black and Hispanic parents are less likely to be willing to allow their children to attend in person classes in comparison to white families, as they tended to have more concerns about proper safety measures being taken and the possibility of bringing the virus home.


Mya Collins, freshman, virtual 

“I definitely think there is (a difference in quality). The barrier of being online and not having that face-to-face support or ease with asking questions has been frustrating. I feed off of the energy in the classroom, so when I’m sitting in my room behind a screen while other people are in the class, I feel disconnected. Especially when more students started going into the building in the fourth quarter, I felt like my teachers forgot about online students. We were always doing activities that were easier for them in the classroom or watching them do the activities while we sat and watched. That hand-on learning aspect and inclusion is something that RV lacked for me going into the last quarter.”

Mrs. Sherman


Meadow Drapala, junior, in person 

“Sometimes when I was all virtual, when I had a question or didn’t understand, I felt very apprehensive to raise my hand or go to office hours because it’s such a different dynamic than just asking a question in person. I feel like sometimes I didn’t get all of the information I needed because I was scared to.”


Joseph Wilson, senior, virtual 

“It’s really sad, I get that you can’t really have the same experience as them [in school students] but I really do feel like I’m missing out on a lot. If you’re gonna do an activity, at least try to include the virtual students as well, because honestly I feel very excluded, in a lot of things. They get to do labs, and in fitness and health classes, they get to work their bodies, and it’s like, ‘hey! I want to do that! Is there any way for me to do that? Or at least show me how to do that?’ But it’s like they don’t really care, and they just give us so much work to do, so much extra work to do it seems in comparison…class isn’t even class anymore, it’s just the teachers talking. They’re saying ‘okay, so here’s the homework, here’s some videos, for like five hours, and you’ll figure it out maybe!’ Like, no. I’m not about to teach myself, you’re supposed to be teaching me, and they’re not doing that…It feels like they don’t care about virtual people that much, they think at this point that we’re accustomed to it, they think ‘oh don’t worry, it’s fine, we don’t have to worry about you’, but yes! Worry about me! I’m a student too and I need help!”

Worry about me! I’m a student too and I need help!

— Joey Wilson


Mrs. Rennie, Health and Physical Education teacher  

“The chant used to be ‘do more technology do more technology’ but now as we’ve come back, I almost want to go the opposite way. I want to bring back as much non technology as I can. It really has been too too much all at once. I’ve heard students say they want to take it old school, they want to take the notes in pen and pencil, things like that…it’s gotten me to rethink my approach to learning. We were all told that we were ‘missing the boat’ and we had to do so much more with technology, but now that we’ve done it, I don’t think so. There can be a happy medium. I want to go reverse almost.”


Mrs. Clymer-Smith, Biology teacher

“I think everybody at this point is very fatigued in this mode of learning. Definitely as a teacher it’s very draining to keep that balance to do my best to try to do things that match up and do something as fully important…I think more students want to be back or crave to be back in some capacity. I definitely think that some kids need to be in the building, but some kids have really done wonderfully in the online environment and excelled and done so much better.”


Ms. Perkins, Health, Driver’s Ed and Physical Education teacher

“I’ve got kids in person and at home, and one part is really easy while the other is really difficult. Kids who come in, I’m watching them, they get an automatic 10, but kids at home I actually have to go through and look at every single one of their Flip-grids for proof…I think it’s definitely challenged me to be better, to make a lot more adjustments. It’s been a start over button. I’ve been teaching for over 20 years now, and we got into a routine. We taught the same thing every single year and yes we obviously update and learn new things, -there were so many new things out there before that I felt overwhelmed and I was taking certain things and leaving the rest- this forced me to learn and do a lot more.”


Mr. Martin, Principal 

“We’re at about 50/50 with students able to come in, and here’s a statistic people will probably be talking about. They’ll say that 50% of the students at RV are getting a better education because they’re in person. Not necessarily true. The 50% staying home…they may learn better in school but there may be some compromising situations at home, with them, their parents, grandparents, a family member and they can’t risk it. That doesn’t mean it’s their preferred mode of learning, they might be doing it as a matter of life or death right now. They’re staying home because of the complications of COVID-19. The best platform isn’t necessarily taking place…there are obviously some kids that should be here, but they and their families are going to err on the side of safety.

“The bottom line is, if we’re going to make this change work, we’re going to believe that less is more and less is necessary. So that said, as a teacher, I wouldn’t think that we could get to such a high level that we are used to, but they’re [the students] going to get the real meat and potatoes but not any extra dishes.”


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