Remote and Virtual Learning at WESS | What Should You Choose? 


“Remote learning” by mykaul is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Jose Carlos Serrano

When schools and the city closed their doors a year ago due to  COVID-19, students were forced to learn in a new virtual environment. As the city and the world learned more about the pandemic, efforts were made to bring students back into school but safely through in-person learning, following the proper COVID guidelines. But the questions remain: are in-Person and remote learning really that different? At WESS,what is the difference between in-person and remote learning?


To start, a brief explanation of the two learning options is as follows. In-person learning is basically exactly what it sounds like: students go into school but follow the proper CDC COVID guidelines to stay safe, whilst remote learning is learning from your house or anywhere outside of school. Just to clarify, at WESS, there are still scheduled zoom meetings in both options for learning, so going in person doesn’t completely eliminate that virtual environment. However, the reason in-person learning seems so plausible for many students is because the social aspect to school has been brought back. Students can now see their friends on a regular basis, as well as their teachers that don’t have medical accommodations. One of the burdens of being stuck at home during the pandemic is the social isolation. Now with in-person learning, people can now have the opportunity to actually see other people again. 

9th grader Alanna O’Connor emphasizes why she chose to opt in for in person learning and why she’s very happy to be back. 


“Even though we are doing the same work, we are doing it with our classmates rather than alone. When in-person started a few months ago, I really enjoyed it,” O’Connor states. “I was in a large room with my classmates and we were able to work together to complete our assignments, and going outside was very fun.” That said, she also believes that there could be a way for the experience to improve as well. 


“Personally I think the teachers in the rooms should encourage the students to work together while keeping a social distance rather than keeping us apart. The in-person school now is definitely a change from pre-COVID school but given our circumstances, I think it’s a great change.” 


Alanna O’Connor’s analysis really speaks to what many students across the city see remote learning as: a time to collaborate with others and to return to a sense of normality in a school setting. The great struggle that comes with in-person learning during a pandemic, which she mentions, is adding that level of being able to collaborate with others while being safe. That’s a consistent issue that schools will be fighting to work on throughout in-person learning in the pandemic. Social isolation was a big part of the pandemic and having the opportunity to see friends again and be able to talk with others without being in front of a computer is definitely compelling to return in-person. 

While many have chosen to go into the school building for learning, many are still skeptical on how safe in-person learning really is. While there are many protocols in place, COVID is still a very big threat, leaving many cautious in its wake. 


For 9th grader Sam Turkowitz, this issue is part of the reason why he prefers remote learning. 


“I have enjoyed really all parts of remote learning but in particular, I enjoy the independence,” Turkowitz begins. “I believe it’s gotten better throughout the year and I’m more adjusted to the schedule.” 


Speaking more towards the safety aspect, Turkowitz continues, “It really wasn’t practical to go in the building when I could do the same thing at home with no risk to COVID.” 


While younger NYC residents may not be as affected by COVID-19, those who have older neighbors or relatives with underlying health conditions may have to take that into account when deciding whether an in-person learning experience would be a plausible option. As Turkowitz mentions in his response, what is really that different between the two that makes in-person learning a must? It’s an issue many students across the city must grapple with when determining their option for learning, and in some cases can come down to preference as well. 

Many might then wonder, so what is the right choice to make? Remote or in-person learning? That factor is dependent on many things, the circumstances you might be in, preference, or anything else. Of course, schools that have accommodated to the CDC guidelines and the city’s COVID guidelines will provide the safest in-person learning experience that they may. Remote learning offers a safer alternative but with the absence of socializing which many value to be very important. It’s completely normal for the skepticism against going into the building as COVID is indeed very dangerous and still present. Only when vaccines come out for younger audiences can we return to the classic school environment that so many have missed throughout this global pandemic.