Virtual AP Classes Create More Stress for Upperclassmen

By Isabella Giallanza, Photo Editor

At the start of the 2020-2021 school year, the Trinity Hall community was made aware of the major shifts in learning style that would be put in place to protect students and faculty from the rapid spread of COVID-19. In addition to rearranged desks, face coverings and plastic shields, virtual “Campus Connection” days were added to the academic calendar to encourage community growth and participation in clubs and organizations. 

Initially, Campus Connection days had a rotating schedule for on-campus activities: some days were dedicated to standardized testing while others were devoted to grade-level meetings. 

With the loss of a day of academic classes each week, however, AP courses began to struggle to remain on track to learn the curriculum needed for the AP exams in May. Due to this conflict, the administration and Core Council re-evaluated the schedule. 

With the start of the new year, the new format for virtual Campus Connection days was released in the community notes, detailing the block schedule for AP classes, SAT/ACT prep classes, and clubs, councils and advisory meetings. For some students, virtual days are still days of relaxation, considering the minimal amount of meetings and classes they have to attend. In contrast, upperclassmen, especially juniors, are incredibly affected by the overloaded schedule. 

“I just wish I wasn’t online for so long when I have so much work to get done.” 

Ellie Thompson, Class of 2022

“I think it would be much better if it was either SAT classes or AP classes, not both in one day,” said junior Ellie Thompson. “I just wish I wasn’t online for so long when I have so much work to get done.” 

Junior and senior year are vital for high school students as they are considered the most important years for college applications. Students should not be subjected to added pressure to participate in rigorous courses on online days, as it has already led to a decreased overall participation in clubs and organizations. Since the schedule change, many students have stopped attending club meetings. These mandatory AP classes reduce student interest in being involved in other extracurricular activities on the same day that involve more screen time.

In addition, virtual platforms are distracting to many, and technical difficulties tend to impede a consistent learning experience. Most of the time, teachers have to reiterate their lessons during in-person classes, as students do not retain the same amount of information from their remote classes. Students should be encouraged to enjoy their time in club meetings on Campus Connection days instead of worrying about their next online AP or SAT class. 

Students should also be encouraged to break away from their screens during the week. With the adjusted learning style, many learning platforms have shifted to virtual experiences to accommodate for those students who are remote. Most STEM classes have replaced the whiteboard with Jamboard, a virtual whiteboard that allows all students to access the same information online, whether attending school in-person or online. This extensive screen time both in school and for homework are detrimental to the student body’s health. While technology provides connection and allows for classes to continue, the downsides must be acknowledged and examined. 

“At the end of last year, I bought blue-light glasses because of the strain that virtual school was putting on my eyes,” said senior Madison Kelly. “I still wear them now because almost all of my classes involve my Chromebook.”

While it must be acknowledged that Wednesdays provide additional time for AP classes to meet, a decline in student health and the strain of reteaching material in school show that eliminating virtual AP classes altogether is the most beneficial solution to this issue. All would benefit from an increased participation in extracurricular activities and classes would run smoother when students return to school refreshed after a break from the screen.

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