As a precaution, students choose remote learning MD Online option


Photo courtesy of Willow Laws

STUDYING HISTORY WHILE LIVING THROUGH IT: Sophomore Willow Laws works on a history worksheet on her iPad at home on Oct. 13. Laws’ history class, taught by Justin Deskovick, is considered an asynchronous class where she is given assignments and assessments to complete on her own on time and is self-paced for students fully online. “I feel like I’ve gotten used to [online school] but it is still a little weird,” Laws said. “I only have Zoom classes for two of my classes [Religion and Spanish] so I haven’t really seen who my teachers are yet. I feel like I can make it work because all of my teachers are always emailing me and reaching out to me.”

Isabelle Alyn and Emma Califato

Although classes have returned to campus for the school’s full hybrid schedule, some local students made the decision to stay fully online for this semester. Now that the school year is in full swing, remote learning students – who are part of the new MD Online program – are finding ways to make sure they stay connected socially and academically.

Sophomore Willow Laws participates in cross country and dance in-person while learning fully online. While her first decision may not have been online school for the start of the semester, she said, she did it for the greater good, despite the fact that she might not be able to see her friends.

“My parents own a nursing home,” Laws said. “They have to go out there every day for work, and the residents there are older. They absolutely cannot get COVID because some of them could get sick.”

Laws said that she thinks that doing online school is the best decision for herself, even if she is not able to attend in person. However, she does go to campus for her extracurricular activities, while abiding by the health precautions in place. Even though Laws can’t have that one-on-one contact every day for classes, she is able to connect with her friends virtually.

“I still FaceTime and text my friends every day,” Laws said. “Also, now that school has started, dancing and cross country have all started at Mater Dei, so I’m able to participate because at dance you stay spread out and then cross country you are outside.”

Sophomore Alaina Gadhavi, one of Laws’ friends, talks about how she has been staying connected with Laws through FaceTime and sending TikToks back and forth.

“It’s definitely a whole other [experience because I used to see Laws] all the time,” Gadhavi said. “I guess I was so used to seeing her all the time and then all of a sudden, this year, I can’t see her around school and I don’t have to wait for her in the hallway. It’s definitely different, but we still talk everyday.”

Junior Thomas Fernandez is another fully online student and is also a first year Chamber singer who has also opted to stay online because of the possibility of putting others around him in danger who are at high risk for the virus.

“My parents actually presented the idea to me at first and it was just for safety reasons,” Fernandez said. “We just want to be extra careful, especially since my grandpa is a senior living with us right now, so we’re trying to be extra safe about that.”

Even though Fernandez has to learn from home, he explained that his social life has been good because his friends always reach out to him and make him feel included.

“[My friends and I] just use a lot of Discord and we use Discord almost every other night,” Fernandez said. “We just talk for hours, so for me it really doesn’t change much. If we ever want to hang out outside, like in the real world, we have masks on and socially distance the best we can. We also always wait two weeks in between hanging out just in case. At the end of the day, [even] if it’s outside, then we always take the necessary precautions.”

Fernandez said that being online has had a large impact on his involvement with his elective. However, Jodi Reed, the choir director, has been allowing him to join via FaceTime by calling one of his friends so he can still be involved in the class.

“[For choir], I feel like a lot of the experiences you have are socially demanding and you have to experience them in person,” Fernandez said. “I was really looking forward to this year, being my first year in choir, because I knew there was a whole plethora of things that choir does and obviously, it’s going to be hindered by being online. I just feel like it’d be a really cool experience to have [in person].”