In-person school vs. online: why face-to-face attendance is beneficial to students


While not all desks this school year will be filled, students will gain a sense of “normalcy” that most have been without for months by going back to in-person school. Roswell is implementing a mask mandate, hand sanitizer stations, and other safety measures to accommodate for those returning, allowing students to focus on succeeding in classes. Photo by: unsplash

Tara Goff

Gone are the days of crowded hallways, sitting next to friends in the cafeteria, and celebratory pep rallies. Although COVID-19 has undoubtedly altered all aspects of life, students face a majority of changes regarding schooling this fall, and possibly into next semester as well, as it is simply impossible to maintain social distancing guidelines in a building full of over 2,000 students and staff. 

Although the 2020-2021 school year began fully virtual, going along with the Fulton County Schools guidelines, phases 3, 4, and 5 have officially started. Students are allowed to choose to continue virtual schooling, or ease back into normalcy by going back once a week, then twice a week, until full face-to-face is set too start on October 14 (note that this date is subject to change).  

Unfortunately, going back to the classroom will not change the fact that precautions are necessary; at Roswell, returning students will find changes such as the installation of hand sanitizer dispensers in the hallways, paper towels in the bathroom, a mask requirement, staggered class changes, the option for all students to eat lunch outside, and other ways of slowing the spread of the virus. Some students may believe that it is not worth it to return under these conditions, however as safety is being practiced there will be more opportunities for success in the plan than failures. 

While at home, students lack a connection to others and what they are learning. There is very little interaction between others over video calls, as most choose to have their cameras off. This discourages participation, causing students to not be fully engaged in the lesson; engagement is essential to understanding, so students risk failing in certain areas. It is also far easier to understand a topic when students can ask questions in person. By sitting with a teacher in-person, one can have a connection and feel more comfortable getting help. 

Sadie Zeigler, junior, who has been back to school since the new phases began, says “I think it is beneficial for students to have in-person school because it gives them the immersive learning experience that is necessary for success. When students sit in classrooms, being held accountable for paying attention, they will gain much more valuable content than they would watching a screen while muted. In person school also allows to students to ask questions much more easily and form relationships with teachers unachievable otherwise.” After experiencing both methods of schooling, Zeigler agrees that students benefit more from in-person, as all aspects of the situation are easier. 

Returning also allows for students to get back into a routine, which many are probably without as they navigate online school. The day allows for lackadaisical actions, such as sleeping in late, laying in bed during class, and putting in half-hearted efforts to certain assignments, sometimes not even in a timely manner. By returning, students will be more engaged in class, have a structured day by doing assignments in time with teacher recommendations, and can get up and move in between each class period. Having a schedule is important for teenagers, as it helps them stay organized, complete tasks with efficiency, and prevents procrastination. 

Additionally, according to Mallory Holbert, freshman, “It is easier to be in school because there are less distractions.” While at home, students may be surrounded by other family members working or learning from home, disturbances from pets, or other aspects of their home environment such as television and cell phones that may prohibit learning. In contrast, being in the school sets up a successful environment with a traditional desk and whiteboard situation. It can also be harmful for a student’s workspace to be associated with their home, as this should be a place that they are able to relax and be free of the pressures that may weigh them down. 

For more on how students are adapting to the transition from online to in-person school, see Gracie’s article on students’ first week back during phase 3. For information on back-to-school plans from teachers’ perspectives, see Ashley’s article on how teachers feel about having some students in the classroom while still teaching online.