How Virtual Students Try to Maintain Community


Credit to Designed by Ashlynn Perez

After the outbreak of COVID-19, schools have been forced to adapt to new safety measures. This is why FHSD introduced virtual instruction this year. This in-depth package explores the difference between traditional in-person learning and learning online.

By Marina Williams

It’s no secret that virtual learning has been a rough transition for some FHSD students. The hardest part for many is staying connected with their classmates. Live Zoom courses, for many, are not enough to feel “normal.” It’s not the same as being in a classroom. 

There haven’t been many times for virtual students to connect to their peers both in-school and online; however, Dr. Christopher Birch, Assistant Principal at FHN, hopes to change that. 

“We are hoping to have at least one activity during Knight Time where we could openly invite virtual students to join in,” Birch said, “We just identified our community leaders in-person at FHN who we are hoping can take on the work that mentors used to, and will help to facilitate those activities.”

Administrators across the district have now made a time during the school day to allow the virtual students to connect, however presenting the final plan and finalizing activities, could take quite a while. 

“We are really hoping to see something by the end of first semester,” Birch said, “In December, our community leaders are doing a lesson on self care that we thought would be appropriate to invite virtual students to.”

The virtual classroom is much different than the in-person classrooms. Virtual teachers are allowed about 55 minutes each day for zoom meetings, which leaves little time for getting to know the students. The time that teachers could usually be used to talk to and learn more about their students in the classroom, is now unavailable due to the lack of resources. 

“We really felt that it was necessary,” Birch said, “We want our virtual students to maintain a sense of family, and we know it’s really important for those students to stay connected.”

In October, FHSD held a virtual spirit week in hopes to give the virtual students another sense of ‘normal’ school. Students with their cameras on would show off their school colors, pajamas, halloween costumes, favorite characters and rocked their favorite hats to spice up the zoom calls. 

“Many district leaders are hoping to build more resources for virtual students,” Birch said, “Really just hang in there and have some resilience.” 

Students like FHN sophomore Sophia Ely feel like they need social interaction now more than ever before. Things that used to feel normal, are now things many virtual students are wishing were still a part of their day. 

“There isn’t much out there for virtual students to participate in,” Ely said, “So I’d like to see maybe a virtual lunch, or some time to connect with our peers without our teachers, because that is what we’d typically get at lunch in person.”