I made a comment last year that I would like to take back.
During this time last year, FWCS gave notice to teachers and students that devices would be one-to-one. Specifically, high school students would be given a laptop to carry around during the school day and to take home.
Their decision to move to one-to-one baffled me when I was a junior. I believed that by giving students laptops, they would become reliant on their devices so much so that they would lose their creativity and problem-solving acumen.
But now, I’m glad to say that FWCS’s decision to move to one-to-one was wisely made, given the circumstances. In fact, it couldn’t have arrived at a better time.
As the COVID-19 pandemic rolled in, schools across the country were forced to rethink their approach to bringing students back to school. While many schools decided to play it safe and move to online learning, some schools like North Paulding High School in Georgia took the opposite approach and decided to cram students like sardines, prompting sophomore Hannah Waters to post a picture of the crowded hallway on Twitter.
FWCS made the decision to move to hybrid learning, which requires some students to stay home while the rest are at school. As a senior experiencing the new environment imposed by the pandemic, individual laptops have been instrumental to learning while at the same time maintaining standards of safety.
Most importantly, students at home use their laptops to interact with their classmates and teachers remotely which vastly reduces the number of students inside the building by nearly half. While empty hallways and cafeterias may look somewhat eerie, it is of vital importance that FWCS does not end up like North Paulding.
Along with social distancing, laptops have allowed for digital assignments and assessments through the information software PowerSchool which has decreased, if not eliminated, paper usage.
According to research conducted by global research and development organization Battelle, COVID-19 can survive on books and other paper mediums for up to three days.
Teachers are on a tight schedule compared to other school years. So, unless teachers want to quarantine student tests and worksheets for three days, laptops are the next best option that can further reduce contact between students and teachers and keep up with the pace of a high school classroom.
On top of the situational benefits of being one-to-one, managing my classwork as a student has been more convenient. Laptops dispense with the need to organize scrap papers in an unnecessarily large binder. Besides the backpack needed to carry the laptop, much of the bulkiness of textbooks and folders is replaced by Cloud – online storage that can store my worksheets, as well as my textbooks in PDF format. Even pencil and pens become obsolete, as websites such as Kami have annotating and drawing functionality.
Individual laptops are a necessary, if not lifesaving evil. If there was any doubt over schools giving students personal laptops, all of it has now been cleared. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools’ hands and has set a new precedent. Schools across the country are at a juncture where laptops and other electronic devices become an extension of students and a part of their daily lives.