'It's a lot': Bay Area high school students frustrated with heavy workload, lack of guidance during virtual learning

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Friday, October 16, 2020
High school students talk about distance learning challenges
Getting the younger kids back to class has been a focus for many districts, but some of the older ones tell us that they are dealing with tough times too.

EAST BAY, Calif. (KGO) -- Getting the younger kids back to class has been a focus for many districts, but some of the older ones tell us that they are dealing with tough times too. In many cases not getting questions answered in a timely manner.

While we always like hearing from administrators and lawmakers, students are the ones who are actually involved with distance learning.

"We're all trying to do the best we can with what we have at the moment," says Carolyn Magnane who is a junior at American High School in Fremont. Magnane says what she has right now is a lot of work, more so than ever before. Something echoed by her classmates in nearby districts.

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"It's just loads of work! I'm in high school and I'm in 7 classes so it's a lot," says Erik Johnson who attends Brentwood's Freedom High School.

We first introduced you to these middle and high schoolers before the school year started. We wanted to check back in to see how the 'distanced' year on Zoom is coming along. The kids had quite a bit to say.

RELATED: 'I see it as a new challenge': Distance learning garners mixed reactions from middle, high school students

California middle and high school students transitioned to distance learning last school year. Some of them excelled and others struggled. News of more distance learning to start the upcoming academic year has garnered mixed reactions among teens.

"It's just hard because you don't really get the help you need," says Johnson.

And if you think that that opinion is limited to Erik then you are way off. Three out of four students we talked with for this story alone tell us that getting questions answered in a private and timely manner has become a major problem. They say private question don't happen during public Zoom classes and often times requests aren't answered, or if they are the class is already on to something else by the time they get a response.

"It's difficult to contact the teachers when I need help," says Jaysyn Dempsey who attends Castro Valley High School. "The tough day is when I have tests or quizzes because normally when we're in person I can go and ask the teacher a question but now on Zoom you're altogether in one room," says Magnane.

While those we spoke with do have either strong home Wi-Fi or a hotspot, they say it's not always perfect and they weren't guaranteed that hotspot. Those with Fremont Unified School District confirm that they have already distributed 800 hotspots and anticipate giving out more as they learn of students using unreliable internet.

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"So the other day I was going to class and for some reason my Zoom wouldn't let me in so after I kept trying and trying finally I got in, but I was 10 minutes late and I missed half the lecture already," says Magnane.

Not everyone though is ready to head back.

"Personally, I kind of prefer distance learning more but I miss interacting with my family friends and people I Know," says Jazzlyn Garcia who is an 8th grader at Thornton Junior High in Fremont.

And it is that interaction that everyone we spoke with talked about in some form or another. Students hoping that the day will eventually come when they get to see classmates and make new friends.

"I'm hoping we go back by at least next year because I can't see anybody and it's kind of boring," says Johnson. "I have one friend in my bubble and we just kind of talk about what's going on and we just wish we could all go back because it's been a big toll on us," says Magnane.

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