Students and teachers Zoom into class

Jared Schreiber, Reporter

Sitting at his desk at home and feeling isolated, sophomore Gaby Goldberg prepared for a full day of online learning. While many view virtual classes as a thing of the past, it once again became the reality of several students and teachers after they contracted COVID-19 amidst the recent Omicron wave.

On Jan. 4, the CESJDS high school administration revised their Zoom policies, instructing teachers to open their Zoom accounts upon receiving notice that a student will be attending classes virtually, according to an email sent by High School Principal Dr. Lisa Vardi and high school announcements. While this policy change made it easier for students to attend classes virtually, Goldberg said his learning experience was far from perfect.

“The ability to participate in class was, unsurprisingly, not that good, because I had raised my hand on Zoom because I am not going to call out in the middle of class, and the teacher just wouldn’t see,” Goldberg said. “… It was really hard to get questions across and the overall ability to really be engaged with the material and with what the teacher was saying.”

However, Goldberg did note that certain teachers made accommodations that he found particularly beneficial. Goldberg said that his math teacher would check in on him to ensure he was comprehending the material and remaining engaged, which made it easier to focus.

Similarly, junior Ella Sheintal, who attended her classes virtually after testing positive, felt more engaged in certain classes than in others. 

“My Hebrew teacher, we always have a warm-up in the beginning of class and she put someone on the Zoom with me so they could do it with me,” Sheintal said. “… My history teacher, when we did a partner assignment, she put them on the Zoom so I could talk to them. They definitely helped [my learning] because it made me feel like I was more a part of the class than if they were not interacting with me at all.”

Students were not the only ones who had to deal with the difficulties of virtual learning this year. Jewish History Department Chair Aaron Bregman was out of school for approximately two weeks staying home with his two-year-old daughter after she was exposed to COVID-19, tested positive and transmitted the virus to both her parents. He agrees with Goldberg, indicating that Zooming into school this year was less pleasant for him than it was last year.

“I enjoyed it more when I knew everyone was home, everyone was on the computer, everyone had the same buy-in, whereas when you’re doing it on your own, and everyone’s in school, it just has a different feel to it,” Bregman said.

Given that he and his family were infected with COVID-19 at the very beginning of the second semester, Bregman had an added challenge beginning a class in a virtual format with students he had not necessarily taught before. However, he said that he was grateful for everything that the JDS administration and faculty did to make his teaching experience as easy as possible.

“I have to give the school a lot of credit as the school was very supportive in understanding my circumstance, allowing me to do whatever I could to the best of my ability,” Bregman said. “… I also want to give a shout-out to my colleagues, who obviously did a lot whether it was proctoring the class or actually subbing the classes. They were really helpful and assisted me in whatever I needed to do.”