CHS and Remote School Days


“Based on the national weather service prediction of winter storm conditions in Ann Arbor beginning Tuesday evening…” 

We all got the voicemail. 

“Wednesday, Feb. 2 will be a remote, virtual school day.” 

The hibernation-like state and turned-off cameras didn’t end up lasting just one day: all AAPS schools took place over Zoom for the 3rd and 4th of February as well. 

According to Community High (CHS) students and staff, results and emotions were mixed.

Senior Gaelen VanderElzen was not especially bothered by the abrupt transition to virtual learning. “We’re all used to it by now,” VanderElzen said over the Monday morning clamor on CHS’s third-floor ledge. He responded with a noncommittal, “Not too much” when asked if he was affected emotionally. 

Although VanderElzen admits he didn’t learn quite as much as he would have in-person, he did mention a few perks of school from home. 

“It’s great to not add more days on to the end of the year” VanderElzen said, “[I also had] more free time not having to do transportation and such, so that was sort of nice”

Emma Hamstra, English teacher and forum leader, was also unphased by the announcement of remote learning. 

“I don’t think it was a surprise, many universities and school districts have gone the way that if you have snow days, unfortunately, we’ll be moving towards a virtual realm.” Hamstra said, “I don’t think it was too shocking to some people.” 

Hamstra hesitated over the ‘correctness’ of the ultimate decision, weighing its effects then declaring she wouldn’t want the responsibilities of the superintendent. 

Similar to VanderElzen, Hamstra mentioned a Zoom school bonus: “I was cooking in between my classes, so I made tomato sauce, one day I was making cookies.” She said, “Between the blocks I could do that… there’s always a plus.”

Hamstra also believes that virtual days have less of an impact on students’ learning and development.  

“I think students are resilient, students can quickly pivot and change and move with the times,” She said. “[Those are] some of the skills that we’ve learned over the past almost three years of the pandemic – people can adapt and turn on a dime.” 

On the other hand, Ryn Waugh, a freshman, emphasized the up-in-the-air nature of the three consecutive remote learning days.

 “It was difficult, There’s a lot of unpredictability with the way that the schedule almost changes at the drop of a hat.” She said, “That makes it difficult to prepare yourself: being at home instead of going outside can be difficult and make you feel cooped up.

Despite overall displeasure towards high school from home, Waugh enjoyed some extra sleep and echoed relief about preventing extension of the school year.

She went on to express further aversion to virtual school. 

“It’s so difficult to pay attention,” Waugh said. It’s like my productivity just disappears,” 

Looking ahead, freshman Clara Freeth hopes for snowdays to make a comeback. She mentioned sledding, hot cocoa and snow day calculator memories, though, like others, understands the price we’ll pay for a true snow day this year. “I definitely don’t want to have additional school in the summer.” Freeth said. “But it makes me sad to log onto Zoom and take notes when I should be playing in the snow”

It’s uncertain what the future holds for Freeth’s beloved old-fashioned snow days, although according to students, remote learning is free to go.