Since March 13, Fairfax County Public Schools have been closed and converted to online classes in response to COVID-19. Like many other FCPS high schools, West Springfield High School classes are now held twice per week through Blackboard Collaborate, an online video conferencing platform.
The switch to online learning has brought a mix of stress and relief to students. Since FCPS announced that fourth quarter assignments cannot negatively impact a student’s grade, many students are less worried about completing their assignments. Therefore, if a student has an ‘A’ in a class at the end of the third quarter, their grade will stay the same no matter how their performance is for the rest of the year. However, students have opportunities to raise their grades if they complete the necessary work.
“I feel like [the transition] has taken away a lot of stress because knowing that my grades won’t drop and that they can only improve overall has relieved stress from school,” said WSHS junior and Springfield resident Claudia Machuca.
“I didn’t do the work!” said Ian Krein, a WSHS senior from Springfield. “None of it was required and I was happy with the grades I had, so my stress level has decreased.”
However, the shift to online classes has made time management difficult for some students.
“The workload hasn’t necessarily increased,” said WSHS sophomore Bryana Russin, a Springfield resident. “It’s honestly made me procrastinate a little bit more because we have so much time.”
Others are enjoying the less-structured school weeks.
“I like how we only have two days of school,” said Sydney Miller, a WSHS sophomore from Springfield. “My stress levels have actually gone down because I don’t have to worry about doing homework after all my sports and staying up late. Now I can do my homework any time of the day and still get my workout.”
Some students worry about not meeting their teachers’ expectations.
“It depends on the class whether I am stressed or not because I am afraid a teacher might find my work non-proficient,” said WSHS junior and Springfield resident Patrick Andrews. “All I really can do is do the work to the best of my ability. I have gone into office hours but it is generally for the students that need help understanding topics so I don’t get much out of them.”
At the beginning of the transition in April, FCPS experienced technical problems with Blackboard Collaborate. FCPS was not up-to-date with Blackboard updates, and when tens of thousands of students attempted to use the software at the same time, it struggled. Many students never got their classes to load at all, while others experienced no problems. FCPS cancelled classes for the remainder of that week, but the issues have been mostly resolved since.
“There were technical issues, but through contact with teachers and peers, it was worked out,” said WSHS senior and Springfield resident Peri Bloss.
“The only difficult part about the transition was the computers and all the restrictions on them sometimes caused classes troubles,” said Lars Griffin, a WSHS junior from Springfield.
Overall, many WSHS students are enjoying the break from the high demands of high school.
“The transition has been enjoyable as I get to sleep more and I can do my work on my own time, which means it’s done more efficiently,” said Griffin.
“I’ve spent time reading books I wanted to read and it’s been so nice,” said Krein.