Online vs In-person: Maintaining the Integrity of Island Lifestyle

Brandon Kim '23, Staff Writer

Since the emergence of COVID-19 Spring term of 2020, the Loomis Chaffee academic schedule has gone under three different systems. During the first stages of the virus, all students were required to take four 50-minute Zoom classes per day. Then, for the 2020-21 year, the school has allowed students to attend school in-person, along with online and hybrid options. However, instead of the traditional trimester system, the schedule was broken down into six smaller terms, where everyone took two or three classes per term.
Throughout the two-and-a-half year period, students have been exposed to a completely new form of education, jeopardizing their adjustment to this six-term schedule. While Spring 2020’s schedule resembled one of a typical Wednesday but on our laptops, the 2020/2021 academic year has completely broken the cycle for both teachers and students. A typical day of the year consisted of one or two classes and an afternoon activity, leaving students an average of four to five hours of free time. Yet, despite the appeal of extra hours, many students have failed to utilize them due to timezone differences, familial obligations, and more. Therefore, sleep schedules were disrupted—delaying usual wake-up times by hours and creating difficulty in getting back to the traditional 8:30 schedule.
Nonetheless, the Loomis academic program must refrain from these alternative schedules. Regardless of online learning and its strong position in today’s pandemic environment, its main purpose was to substitute for missed school. Loomis has built a tradition in fostering interpersonal bonds—whether it’s with faculty or fellow pelicans—through physical interactions around the Island.
If Loomis were to push for a digitized platform, the school would have to invest both time and money to perfect this novel educational experience, preparing for risks that may appear along the way. Such a plan would not only disturb the cycle that students are finally adjusting to, but also radically shift the school’s social landscape.
Furthermore, everyone needs to realize that these circumstances have eased the rigor of school, as Loomis experienced an inflation of GPA during the pandemic schedule. The alternative schedules have provided a horrific misrepresentation of students’ true understanding on topics that they have learned in school, for many teachers were unable to hand out major assessments without the risk of cheating. For instance, several math and science classes have decided to forgo tests and assigned collaborative problem sets and projects, assignments that fail to completely assess individual understanding. As a result, students have largely underperformed in diagnostic tests during the Fall term, in comparison to previous years. To prevent this issue from reoccuring, it is necessary for Loomis to stick to in-person education, where students can prove their grasp of class materials.
Hopefully, after 2021, the country will most likely move back to a pre-pandemic lifestyle, where everything will revert to its original form. As of now, Loomis intends to take strong measures to maintain the current in-person academic schedule, despite a recent spike of positive COVID cases on campus. As cases drop within the next month, students will beign to experience the Loomis life they have anticipated for, and be grateful that the administration has not made sweeping changes.