School Closure and Online Learning

School Closure Effects Issy Po-01Writer: Clara H.

Visual: Issy P. 

Editor: Chris D.

Last Saturday (March 7), a BGC-based company confirmed that one of their employees had tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). On Sunday evening, the Department of Health confirmed four new cases of the disease, all in Metro Manila. On Monday night, President Duterte announced that all classes in Metro Manila would be suspended for the rest of the week. With the coronavirus’ reach growing faster and closer to home, at 5 AM on Tuesday morning, ISM finally announced the closure of the school for the coming week. 

The joy of missing classes didn’t last long as students soon began the process of online learning, a policy that ISM had established a few weeks ago in case of school closure due to emergency situations. Through online resources such as Google Classroom, teachers were able to post class materials and assignments to keep students busy at home. From Wednesday onwards, most teachers started using Zoom, which provided students with a more classroom-like setting. The application has several useful functions, including a ‘raise-hand’ function that allows students to speak one at a time. 

When asked about her thoughts on online learning, Junior Anagha C. said “It is great that students have online learning to continue school during this uncertain event. Teachers have been working hard to keep us on track with assignments and do zoom calls. Online learning is new for all of us, so we have to be patient, open-minded, supportive, and most of all, continue learning.” 

Despite these useful digital tools, there are still some significant challenges that both students and teachers face with online learning. The 30-minute class durations make it very difficult for teachers to fit the otherwise 70 minutes worth of content into their lessons. This is especially problematic for content-heavy IB Higher Level subjects, such as Biology HL, as higher-level classes are already under the IB’s requirement of 240 class hours. In an attempt to mitigate this problem, many teachers – including Economics and Business teacher Mr. Winters and Math teacher Mr. Armstrong – have posted videos of themselves teaching for students to watch outside of class time. 

The short class periods also make it harder for students to ask questions during class. When asked about the most challenging part of online learning, Freshman Peyton C. said, “It is not the same as being in a classroom where you can ask the teacher for help.” To compensate for this, some teachers have been holding additional Zoom sessions during the one hour long online tutorials where students can ask questions more freely. 

It is very important that all students stay on top of and be responsible for their own learning. This is a tough time for everyone, especially for Juniors learning the most important parts of their IB courses and for Seniors with their IB exams coming up soon. Yet, health should be everyone’s foremost priority, so stay safe!