Why hybrid learning doesn’t work

And why distance learning does


Maya Markowicz/Talon

Home workspace with laptop on a Google Meet call.

Distance learning isn’t the easiest. Parents who work from home find it difficult to keep their younger children focused; students in school have a tougher time engaging with class and grasping tough concepts. You might hear people saying “just send ‘em back,” but it’s not that simple.

In the middle of a pandemic, sending your kids back to school comes with a risk. Choosing to learn in-person means placing your personal health and safety in the hands of others. You must trust every student and staff member to be safe not only at school but in their own lives as well. The hybrid model only works if all staff and students continue to self-quarantine when not in school, which is not likely the case.

If one person during hybrid learning shows symptoms and tests positive, their whole contact network will likely have to self-quarantine for the next 14 days in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, it is not easy to tell from just a temperature check, and a person may unknowingly spread the virus around before they start to show symptoms. Furthermore, finding an entire contact network for one person would be near impossible — you might as well stay home.

Distance learning is (obviously) effective regarding the prevention of COVID-19 cases; if people don’t get together, the health risks go down. Distance learning has also increased student flexibility and free time by cutting down on time spent traveling to school and walking between classes. As a result, students have more time during the day, especially in the mornings and after school. Distance learning has also acclimated students of all ages to many forms of technology through online classwork and homework.

The hybrid learning model is a way of heading back to normal. Yet, hybrid learning (just like distance learning) fails to meet the standards of normal schooling, and it is the only option that puts staff and students at risk.

I believe that normalcy in school is defined by three main things: learning in-person, socializing, and participating in activities such as clubs or sports. Hybrid learning involves sitting in person with a chromebook (I wouldn’t exactly call that in-person instruction). Distance learning provides a very similar, and likely more comfortable, learning environment. Hybrid learning promises some social interaction, however that interaction will remain severely limited due to mandatory social distancing; it would still seem safer and more effective to stay home and spend time with friends outside of school hours. Lastly, clubs will still be online and sports will still be in person, but limited by social distancing rules — hybrid learning won’t change anything in that regard.

Most of all, hybrid learning is inconvenient. At all times, students must worry about their face coverings, distancing themselves from others and the possibility of coming home and getting a family member sick — a burden that students should not have to bear.

Distance learning effectively prevents the spread of COVID-19; hybrid learning doesn’t. Neither hybrid nor distance learning fulfil any of the normalcy requirements to justify that risk. Doesn’t distance learning seem like the obvious choice? Well, it’s up to you…