Turn. Your. Cameras. On.

by Lexi Kimmel ‘21

Senior year for me started by sitting in front of a computer, staring at an error message telling me that the website that had my Zoom link on it had crashed. No senior breakfast, no decorating cars in the parking lot, no senior privileges. And while I do indulge in a little self-pity, I understand that all of America is going through the same thing and there are bigger problems than my technical difficulties. We all wish we were in a physical classroom, with our friends, playing sports, and living normally. But we are not, and we have to adapt. 

Zoom classes are rough right now. No one really knows what to do, and each day seems to bring another problem. The cherry on top of all this is the fact that some students refuse to turn their cameras on. It happens in every class–the teacher asks students to turn their cameras on, no one does it, awkwardness for everyone. A lot of students simply don’t care enough about their learning experience to listen to the teachers, but having cameras on is a crucial part of online school.

Just because we are sitting in our rooms at home, miles away from our teachers and peers, does not mean we can treat school like it is optional. Teachers need to see students to make sure they are attentive and doing what they are supposed to be doing. It is easy to not pay attention in class, and turning off your camera gives the student complete freedom to walk away from our computer and do whatever. Unfortunately, high school students will almost never change their actions unless a consequence is threatened. 

Students should be marked absent if they do not have their cameras on, and the normal absence policy should be enforced (and MCPS should change its misguided policies as necessary to make it happen). Teachers work day in and day out for us, trying to make online learning work. Most teachers have been standing in front of a full classroom for years, and to put them in the position of having to stare at a bunch of black screens is incredibly rude. It is hard for me to comprehend why anyone would want to make online learning more difficult than it already is. No matter where you are learning from, teacher relations are crucial to a proper learning experience. So please, for everyone’s sake, turn your cameras on. Your peers and teachers will be so grateful, and it will make online learning a little easier for everyone.