In spite of the global pandemic, Suffield Academy resumed in-person classes this fall. However, nearly fifty students were still unable to learn on campus, and instead partook in remote classes held on Microsoft Teams. This online platform gave students the ability to attend classes in real time, or watch a recorded version later on at the student’s convenience. Regardless of all the changes this year, assignments were still able to be submitted online through Schoology for all students. The Bell spoke with four remote students: Sean, Stacy, Naila Gomez, and Elm Piyasambatkul, in hopes of understanding their unusual perspective.
Sean Wilson ’24
Sean found it challenging to study remotely. Sean explained, “teachers aren’t as aware if you don’t understand what they’re teaching.” On the flip side, Sean liked how the teachers “communicated back very often” whenever he had a question or a problem. “They are very understanding with certain situations,” Sean says, “I couldn’t attend classes for a full week because my power was out, and the teachers were kind and accepting”.
Stacy Yurkovskaya ’23
Stacy spent half of the term as a remote student, arriving on campus mid-October. “The hardest part was to stay engaged,” she remembers, “instead of muting yourself and sitting quietly.” Discussions, in particular, appeared difficult for Stacy, as she did not “see who was speaking, trying to guess from a person’s voice.” She wished there had been opportunities to see classmates, instead of just the board.
Naila Gomez ’22
For Naila, the first week of classes seemed the most challenging. “It was the adjustment period, where people had to remember that there were remote students, and remote students were figuring out, ‘Am I allowed to unmute myself? How do I raise my hand for a question? How am I supposed to participate?’” Another challenge was communication among classmates, and Naila came up with various solutions to staying connected over such a great distance. “Sometimes, I’d ask my teacher ‘am I allowed to be on FaceTime with one student”, Naila shares, “and sometimes, like in my Biology class, my friend would log on Teams, so we could whisper to each other on screens.” Nevertheless, Naila was able to find positive things in staying remote, such as “waking up to the smell of breakfast and not having to walk to the dining hall when it’s cold outside, being with [her] siblings, and eating [her] own food”.
Elm Piyasombatkul ’21
Elm talked about how the main struggles of remote learning were “the time zones, being isolated, and staring at the screen for hours on end” all of which caused him to dislike remote learning. “I just wanted to go back, since my community and social circle are at Suffield”, Elm says. Even in Thailand, he felt “isolated from [his] family and friends” as his sleeping schedule shifted immensely due to having classes at night. Elm is grateful for his teachers who “did everything in their power to make remote learning easier,” such as taking tests in the morning when he is fresh.
Even though they managed to study remotely in the fall term, the four remote students hope to get back in person in the upcoming year in order to fully enjoy the experience of Suffield Academy.