Rialto High School started implementing a “Cameras On” policy during distance learning. Students and staff both have mixed emotions about the new policy.
Many students state that having the cameras on is an unnecessary distraction in the morning or prevents them from being able to multitask at home. Students describe how they have to wake up early, have no time to get ready, or just can’t look presentable because they know they have to complete chores or perform other duties around the house for their parents.
Sophomore Sarahi Hernandez explains, “I have to wake up earlier to get dressed … and the cameras give me anxiety,” while Junior Alexa Sanchez explains, “We’re all sleep deprived so we wake up just in time for class. Then, some of us have to multitask, and we can't do that with cameras on.”
Other students describe how it can be unfair to students with toxic homes or just unfair overall. Freshman Lilliana Garcia states, “People aren't comfortable having their cameras on because things are going on in the background. This affects students’ ability to focus in class because they're so preoccupied with trying to hide their backgrounds that they aren’t listening to their teachers.” In response to this frequent complaint, Google has now released a new feature that allows students and teachers to choose a background from a list of templates so viewers cannot see what is in the background.
Nevertheless, there are some students who do not mind and actually enjoy the “Cameras On” policy. For example, sophomore Emily Casas states, “I’ve had no problem with the new expectation. Depending on the subject of a class, some teachers have been less strict about it than others. Though I believe every teacher I have has enforced it enough to ensure students are following instruction and staying on task.”
Junior Miguel Morales says, “My experience with the ‘cameras on’ is great. At first, I thought it was weird that I had to turn on my camera. However, now I’m fine with the fact that I have to turn on my camera. In my opinion, it’s the same as going to school because you have to show your face.”
There are also students who are actually thankful for their teachers allowing them to have their cameras on and it not having to be pointed directly to their face. Junior Duc Nygen states, “My experience, so far, has been pleasant. I don't like having my camera on because I am a private person, but so far, it's been manageable. My teachers only require a part of my body to show to indicate that I'm there which I'm thankful for.”
There are mixed emotions from students, but in regards to the teachers, many of them love it because it mirrors some of the familiar aspects of the teaching process. For example, AP Government and Ethnic & Social Justice teacher Liliana Casarrubias states, “This new policy brings a sense of ‘normalcy’ to this new platform and allows us to gauge students’ level of engagement.”
Some teachers even felt as if the “Cameras-On” policy created a more personal bond with their students as well. Art I and Animation teacher Lorene Pazmino says, “I like that I actually get to connect faces with my students' names. I like that it creates more of a relationship with my students because it gives us all a feeling of actually interacting with people rather than the bubble with a letter on it.”
However, there are also some teachers who understand the students who dislike and find the “Cameras-On” policy to be unnecessary. Physical Education teacher Anne Cordaro states, “While cameras obviously make the experience better for all parties, and I believe in having cameras on, I also understand that there are a million different situations going on with the students right now, and if we take a hard line stance about cameras being on, we may be hurting students about cameras who have very legitimate reasons to have their cameras off.”
In regards to information about the legality of the policy, multiple attempts to reach Rialto High School principal Dr. Caroline Sweeney went unanswered by the time of publication.
While there are mixed emotions about the new school wide policy, it is something both students and teachers have to adhere to until they are able to go back to traditional brick and mortar learning.
So charge up those laptops, and log into class, because this is the new standard from now on.