Reflecting on a Covid-19 Hybrid Fall Term

Following a term of hybrid classes, The Lawrence surveyed the student body to determine the effects of Covid-19 on student experiences in terms of social life, academics, and preventative measures.

Following a term of hybrid classes, The Lawrence surveyed the student body to determine the effects of Covid-19 on student experiences in terms of social life, academics, and preventative measures.

Social Life

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A large number of students who responded to the survey experienced greater difficulties in bonding with their Housemates and classmates. Using a scale with five options (Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neutral, Agree, and Strongly Agree), respondents were asked to rate the following statements: “I have had a difficult time meeting new people in classes” and “I have found it hard to form close bonds with the people in my House.”

As shown in the graph, Remote Learning Option (RLO) students experienced the greatest levels of difficulty in terms of meeting new people in classes. On average, day students also tended to agree that they had trouble meeting people in classes, while boarding students held a neutral point of view. Similar trends were seen when students were asked about forming close bonds in Houses; RLO and day students found it much more difficult to form bonds with one another in the Houses.

Because they rarely or never met on campus, most day and RLO students felt particularly isolated last term, with one day student saying, “As a day student who primarily interacts with boarders, it has been really isolating to see everyone yelling and having fun in the common room while [I’m] stuck outside on the porch freezing. Additionally, it’s been really hard to get myself to talk to people I don’t usually interact with [over Zoom].”

When responding to the second statement, II Formers reported having the easiest time forming bonds with others in their house. The average II Former disagreed with the statement, while the average student from all of the other Forms tended to agree with the statement. One II Former felt that she was “able to make some really good friends, especially considering [she is] a freshman, [even though Covid-19] has hindered building relationships with these new friends.”

Academic Life

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Overall, Lawrentians who responded to the survey reported having trouble engaging in classes and forming bonds with their classmates and teachers. 57.0 percent of students believed that Covid-19 had made it more difficult to ask teachers for help last term, and 77.2 percent of students believed that it was difficult to work together with their classmates both in and out of class. In addition to the challenge of forming bonds, students found it challenging to stay alert and attentive during Zoom classes, with 88.1 percent of students agreeing that it was difficult to stay focused and engaged as a Zoom participant in hybrid classes.

Students cited difficulties in participating as a large reason for this lack of engagement, with one student commenting, “When Zooming into hybrid classes, I often feel left out…It’s also much more difficult to participate in entire class discussions. Even though we’ve been using Zoom for months, it’s still really hard to have conversations and to stay focused.”

However, hybrid class experiences were largely dependent on class size and content, as some classes were able to have nearly everyone in person, while other classes had students rotating every other class. Overall, 62.0 percent of students still preferred having hybrid classes over fully virtual classes.

Covid-19 Prevention

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Although many students were dissatisfied with the administration’s Covid-19 rules, 62.2 percent of students were not worried about getting Covid-19, and 57.5 percent believed that they were well-informed on the spread of Covid-19 on campus. Many students found the Covid-19 dashboard, which displayed the total number of student and faculty cases on campus, to be helpful. In addition, maintaining six feet of distance, the usage of POM tracers, frequent testing, sanitization, and temperature checks have all helped maintain students’ safety. One respondee reflected, “Not many students have gotten the virus, and I think the school has done a great job of containing its few cases.”

While 89.0 percent of the student body believed that fellow peers did a good job at wearing masks, only 10.0 percent of students believed that students maintained six feet distance from their peers.

However, students still felt negatively impacted by some rules imposed by the administration, with one student saying, “I feel like the rules Lawrenceville has made are just in place on paper to look good, and a lot of them conflict with each other...Day students can’t go in the House, but boarders and day students eat together inside Irwin with no masks or [distancing]. Sports teams can run and workout together without masks, but orchestra and choir [have] to limit [their] capacity, stay 10 feet apart, and wear masks.”

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