Hybrid, Remote Learning Options Gave Students Decisions To Make


Kyle Brennan

Classrooms at Nonnewaug will stay empty until at least Jan. 19, 2021, and when Region 14 decides to resume its hybrid learning model, students and families will have to decide whether they want to head back or stay at home.

Lauralee Pelletier, Reporter

WOODBURY — Region 14 schools have been closed to in-person learning until mid-January, and all students have participated in remote learning since mid-November. Many Nonnewaug students say that they expected this closing since the beginning of the year, while others say it was more of a surprise because they were trying to be optimistic about the whole situation.

Almost all students had similar thoughts and hopes for the school year. Many said they had concerns.

“I was worried,” said senior Caitlyn Clow, who started the school year as a hybrid learner before becoming a remote learner prior to Region 14’s district-wide decision. “I was excited to see my friends after a long quarantine, but I was still confused how it was going to work. I knew not everyone would follow social distance guidelines over the summer and I knew that not everyone would want to follow the rules that the school had in place. But Connecticut was on track to contain the virus, so I had hopes.”

Even some learners who chose to go to school at the beginning of the year now feel different than they did then, and their views fall more closely to those who originally chose to be remote learners.

“It was very strange going to school the way we were, but I felt safe for the most part, and I got used to it,” said freshman Sophia Betkoski, who was also a hybrid learner before the switch. “Now I like staying home because with the rise in cases I feel less safe.”

Although many students feel that this remote learning switch was expected and much needed, others feel differently. Many are disappointed and hope that they will be able to return to school when cases begin to go down again.

“I think hybrid was a good, safe option when we were allowed in school because we were all split up so it was easier to social distance,” said freshman Julia Marunas, who was a hybrid learner.

Despite this recent scare that caused temporary remote learning, many students still wish to be back in school with their classmates if a hybrid schedule is available to still be in place when they return, but this option is not popular among all students. Understandably, a large portion of students who were interviewed at the beginning of the year feel unsafe now and say they would feel very unsafe returning to school in person.

Meanwhile, remote learners remain confident in their decision to stay all remote from the beginning of the school year.

“Before school started, it was decided that I stay home because I have high-risk family members and young siblings,” said Hannah Cipriano, who has been learning at home for the whole first semester. “I am confident in my decision because it affects more people than me, and you never know, so it’s just better to be as safe as possible.”

Clow said she changed her mind after seeing COVID-19 cases rise and how some students acted in school.

“I never treated coronavirus as a joke; I knew how contagious it was and how serious it was,” Clow said. “When I kept seeing cases go up higher and higher, I felt it was a bit ridiculous to keep coming to school. We have more cases now than we did in March — why are we still going to in-person school? I am confident in my decision because although I miss actual human contact, I feel safer. I’ve seen students not wash their desks, not use hand sanitizer, and not wear their masks properly, and it gave me anxiety. I only feel safe at my own house.”

While many students feel that remote learning is unfortunate, they agree that it is the safest option for teachers and students at Nonnewaug at the moment. It is more important right now to prevent a rise in cases and ensure the safety of all students and their families.