Guest column: The pandemic has put a strain on my learning because school was always my safe place

Back in March, when schools decided to go online because of the pandemic, many students including myself found the “new” normal to be not conducive for learning, to say the least. My siblings would constantly knock at my door, and my parents would ask me to translate a letter or answer a call in the middle of my class sessions because I was home all day compared to my siblings who had to go outside the house for work (my whole family immigrated to the U.S. in 2014 so English is my parents' second language). My learning was interrupted with household responsibilities and surrounding distractions at home.


As schools reopen for class this fall, many school districts across Michigan including Detroit Public Schools are offering full-virtual learning options along with smaller in-person class sizes. In addition to that, many schools that had block schedules are now switching to the regular schedule with eight classes a day. Students doing virtual learning will now have to sit in front of a computer screen from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a 5-minute break in between class sessions.


I once thought that I would appreciate remote learning, but that’s changed. COVID-19 has put a huge strain on my learning since school and education was always my safe place. With everything being virtual, I will not be able to do everything I initially planned for my senior year such as college visits, conferences, and fly-ins. Additionally, since last December, I have been waiting and constantly registering to take the SAT, but I have had no success. All of the testing centers canceled the SAT a day before the exam due to the rising COVID-19 cases.


Remote learning becomes more difficult for students like me who have parents who ask for help around the house. Even though I have the option to go to school in-person, it’s not the best choice since I have siblings and parents at home who might be at a greater risk than me if I bring the virus home.


I’m grateful that I am not in a situation where I have to work in the middle of the pandemic to help my family, but many students have no choice but to risk their lives to go to work.


Diara Lloyd is a former student in Detroit Public Community School District and a current freshman at Eastern Michigan University. A lot of her friends come to her and talk about how they have to work in the middle of a pandemic. Lloyd says “this is a fundamental problem that the Detroit Public School District and schools within the district must consider when making decisions for students. This pandemic taught us that not many students will care about their academic performance if schools are online.”


Sitting beside the kitchen desk and trying to listen to my teacher while my mom is cooking is not the way I imagined myself ending my junior year last semester and it is not the way I initially expected my senior year to begin this fall.


Yet, despite the challenges, I kept a growth mindset. Indeed, it is difficult to find glory while witnessing a devastating time, but empathizing with other classmates in school and teachers has allowed me to stay strong and engaged in a virtual learning environment and I hope to keep this mindset as I transition to my senior year.

Mahbuba Rahat is a senior at Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine and lives in Hamtramck. Read her previous contribution to Model D, “Asian American is not a disease,” published earlier this year.


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