HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — When the pandemic began, Nahe Valencia was a high school student at Kamehameha Schools Kapalama Campus about to graduate with her class and celebrate her hard work.
Due to COVID restrictions, her school opted to hold a drive-in graduation. Not getting the closure she expected, she then started at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in the fall 2020 semester.
As she began taking classes toward a degree in fashion merchandising, she struggled to maintain a healthy balance between school and home life – ultimately deciding to give up.
Valencia is not alone. Many students in Hawaii have struggled to take classes remotely during the pandemic due to the difficulty of differentiating between a home and school setting.
“When you’re condensed into one room or one area of the world, it’s so hard to separate all of these different aspects of your life,” Valencia explained.
“Especially during the pandemic, when it started, everyone was stuck at home, and you had to work, go to school, and then have free time in one space. It all kind of got mixed up.
Students had no choice but to take lectures and classes via Zoom or asynchronously for the first year and a half due to the pandemic.
This took a mental toll on many of them, causing some students to ultimately choose to take time off from their studies.
Valencia ended up dropping all of their classes at UH Manoa in the fall 2021 semester before the 50% refund deadline.
“My learning style was not suited to this learning period, especially when I was practically teaching the course to myself. I needed this time to understand what I wanted to do. And I feeling like I just wasn’t happy in my major and in my school life,” Valencia said.
Later in the pandemic, UH Manoa added hybrid courses (in-person and online) in addition to Zoom and asynchronous learning.
While this type of learning style didn’t sit well with some, other students thrived.
UH Manoa student Jenna Bedford takes classes at both Windward Community College and UH Manoa.
She said that while online classes have their downsides, there are also benefits to learning remotely.
“I like to have some classes in person and some classes online. General classes like English 100 should be taught online, but lab classes should be taught in person,” Bedford said.
She liked being able to dictate when and where she took her classes, but explained that it came at a cost.
“You have to be self-reliant, which has caused me to procrastinate with assignments at times,” Bedford said.
The added stress of the pandemic caused not only Bedford, but also other students, to procrastinate or turn in work that was not up to quality standards.
Desi Poteet, assistant professor of English and chair of the language arts department at Windward Community College, said she’s seen firsthand the impact remote learning has had on some students.
“I had to adjust my homework to try to meet the needs of my students,” she says.
In some of her classes, she has created small breakout sessions on Zoom, so students feel more comfortable talking to each other and discussing course material.
Poteet said it was difficult to make that student-teacher connection through a computer screen.
Now that the restrictions are all but gone and more in-person classes are being offered for the upcoming fall 2022 semester, many students and educators are trying to figure out how to move forward — and make up for lost time.
“We are really looking forward to offering more in-person classes for the upcoming fall semester while still having online and hybrid classes to give our students choice,” the UH spokesperson said, Dan Meisenzahl.
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