The Student News Site of Punahou School

Ka Punahou

The Student News Site of Punahou School

Ka Punahou

The Student News Site of Punahou School

Ka Punahou

A Look At Distance Learning So Far



Punahou Academy students returned to school fully online on August 19, 2020, and both students and teachers shared how their new experiences compare, as well as contrast, to school years in the past. 

Punahou Administrators designed a four-tiered, color-coded plan to adapt to a variety of situations that the pandemic could present. The tiers range from the highest, Red, down to Orange, Yellow and then Green. 

This return to campus plan was designed to be able to switch between on campus learning and distance learning easily, should the need arise. All tiers create an on-campus environment where students see each other less than they would have in the past. Even in a case where Punahou moves to the green tier, there are limits of the use of common spaces. The school calls this “limited cohort mixing.”

One Academy student, Colson Falk ‘23, didn’t like starting the year in distance learning because it caused him to see his friends less. “Distance learning isn’t my preferred way to learn because it takes out the fun and the rewards of going to school, which to me are seeing my friends and socializing with different people in or out of class. At the moment in distance learning I feel like a robot on my computer a lot of the day. Even though it’s not ideal, I understand the circumstances.” 

Another Punahou student, Joey Wilson ‘22, described his homework load under distance learning as manageable. The only difficult parts are the two hour classes during the day, he said.

Academy Social Studies Department Head, Dr. Pamela Sakamoto, described the teacher’s experience under the new schedule online as fast-paced and booked. Teachers worked on interims during the August 31-September 4 week along with managing the term block schedule. 

Dr. Sakamoto also described her classroom experience from her social studies classes. “The truth is that the screen is kind of a barrier and it’s harder to have regular, even casual interactions,” she said. “My students right now are telling me that they’re sitting in front of the computer for a minimum of five hours a day. That’s probably enough.”

A newer aspect of the online class experience that Dr. Sakamoto mentioned was the use of Webex Teams. Punahou science classes started using Webex Teams in the previous school year, and this year more classes have been using it as well. 

Dr. Sakamoto said, “Breaking up into teams is a way for us to encourage you to speak, and hopefully enjoy your time. It really is a way for students to take more leadership.” 

The bottom line for learning is still the same for Dr. Sakamoto. She described that students should be proactive, active participants, and caretakers to their learning, and that teachers work hard to help students grow and hope to inspire them.

Punahou hopes to return to campus Tuesday, October 13, though even with a return to campus some students may choose to stay home, and certain classes will remain online.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All Ka Punahou Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *