Home Away From Home: The Physical v. MSO Debate

Home Away From Home: The Physical v. MSO Debate

The 2020-2021 school year has been unlike any other, as the coronavirus pandemic has drastically altered how we live and learn. The end of the previous school year was a bittersweet one, as we all said farewell to one another from home through Zoom after being sent home for a “two-week spring break” in March. That “two-week spring break” turned into something much longer and much worse. This year commenced with a rough start back in August, with the technical fiasco that was the district’s K-12 online platform. From the perspective of the Class of 2021, it was even worse for them, as they had to experience their last first day of school alone and at home, rather than being able to walk the halls of MAST. Finally, in October, some of us were able to return to the building physically, while the rest chose to remain online – these online students have since been referred to as MSO students (My School Online). Now that it is April, both physical and MSO students have experienced their mode of learning for a period long enough to develop opinions on the pros and cons of these different learning environments. The Caduceus Times has surveyed the student body to measure these opinions, which we will explore throughout this article.

Exploring the Survey

Answers to the survey indicate a 60% MSO to 40% physical student ratio, with about 29% of all students having switched between modes since the beginning of the year. Of those that have switched, 79% said that it was an easy process to do so. Among the reasons given for switching, most have done so out of personal convenience. Those who have gone back to MSO say that being online fit their schedule better and were more comfortable at home, where they had more flexibility and freedom. Also, some students believe that it would be easier for them to focus without distractions from others if they were at home; conversely, some were motivated to switch to online because of all the restrictions in the building that prevented normal social interaction, stating that there was no point in trying to socialize at school. Despite this particular belief, I see many students having a good time hanging out while staying safe in lunch, playing ping-pong, and being glad to see one another in person and talk. This in-person interaction and the difficulty of learning subjects such as Calculus online has driven some students to come back into the building. Kaylah Townsend, a senior who switched from MSO to physical, had this to say:

“Although i enjoyed sleeping in late, leftovers for lunch, and staying in bed during classes, I had to switch back to physical because I couldn’t focus for my AP classes. Also, I wanted to see my friends and teachers one more time before I graduated.”

Kaylah Townsend, 12th Grade

Discussing the merits of switching modes of learning also leads us to the conversation of which mode is the superior one. First and foremost, it must be understood, that there is no better method, everyone learns differently and is more comfortable in different environments. There are valid cases to be made for both methods.

Seniors Maria Vidal, Sofia Alvarez, Laura Fernandez, and Stephanie Chavez chatting about college plans.

At the end of the survey, students were asked which method they generally preferred now that they have experienced both. In this case, they showed that they favored being physically in the building, with only 41% saying that they liked online learning better. In order to support this, I have since compiled a list of advantages and disadvantages for both methods, so you can judge for yourself and decide which works best for how you learn.

The Case for Physical

Advantages:

  • The ability to do more hands on learning, and directly interact with your teacher.
  • The school building provides a safe and focused working environment that encourages a better work ethic.
  • It is easier to communicate, socialize, and work with your friends when you are in person.
  • Provides a sense of normalcy and a concrete schedule.
  • Activities or dress out days are easily participated in and celebrated with friends and teachers

Disadvantages

  • Potential exposure and the stress of worrying about the virus.
  • Commuting to and from school.
  • Waking up earlier.
  • No flexible hours.
Image courtesy of govtech.com

The Case for MSO

Advantages

  • You are generally safer from COVID-19 when you are at home.
  • Waking up a little later and still be in school on time.
  • Learning from the comfort of home, which includes eating better food during lunch and going to the bathroom whenever you want.
  • Develops independence and time management skills.
  • It is easier to watch over and help family members in case of an emergency.

Disadvantages

  • Can be very easy to get distracted and lose focus during class and not get work done.
  • Lacks an engaging social environment; there is typically less student interaction on Zoom.
  • WiFi or technical issues can disrupt attendance and your ability to learn.

Even though the year is almost over, and it seems that the student body is generally satisfied with their mode status quo; despite this, I encourage all students to carefully reconsider and decide if their current learning mode is right for them. For the seniors especially, if you are MSO I ask that you remember that this is our last couple of months together before we all go our separate ways. Before you pass on returning to the school building, please know that your physical classmates and teachers miss seeing your faces in person. Whatever you decide, everyone here at The Caduceus Times wishes the entire student body the best for the rest of the school year!

Denise Evans
Denise Evans

Denise Evans is a writer for the Caduceus Times newspaper. She is an accomplished student and athlete from Mast @ Homestead, having had achieved an AP Scholar with Distinction Award as well as multiple karate World Championship titles around the world. When she’s not diligently writing for The Caduceus Times, you might find her traveling, training, competing in tournaments, teaching at her local dojo, or studying for her various AP classes.

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