Virtual School vs. In-Person School at Madison

Aidan Jones and Sylvia Dixon


In-Person Student: Aidan Jones


When Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) gave the option to go back in-person, I sprang on it. Personally, I have been having great difficulty with online learning. I have felt disconnected from my class and my teachers, and I’m exhausted from the countless hours of email tag and figuring out specifics of assignments. 

As of now, in-person learning has been game-changing for me. I feel engaged in class and more connected to my teachers. I also love that whenever I have a question about something, I can just go and ask my teacher. 

Admittedly, I am only in-person for two days and then I am virtual for two days, but it is so much better than it was before. When it initially came to this decision, I was nervous about my safety at school, but decided that my education is important. I think that those who are thriving online should stay online if they think that is better for them, and I think it is good that those who were disconnected like me decided to return to school. It brings excitement to my week, and I hope that things can one day go back to “normal.”

Virtual Student: Sylvia Dixon


Fairfax County Public Schools students were given the option to return to school in-person for two days a week or stay completely virtual. I chose to stay virtual for a number of reasons. Firstly, I am already used to and have adjusted to online learning, so it didn’t seem like a big deal to remain virtual for the rest of the school year. Also, I have enjoyed some of the benefits of online learning, and I wasn’t quite ready to give those up. These benefits include sleeping in, doing class in my pajamas and picking up food for lunch.

On a normal day of online school, I wake up around 8:00 a.m.. This leaves me about 20 minutes to get ready for my first class. During this time, I brush my teeth, check my phone, wash my face and power on my laptop. I’m usually not too hungry before my first class so I don’t eat breakfast yet. I log in to my first class at 8:20 a.m..

After class is over, I have about eight minutes before I have to log into my next class. I use these eight minutes to make a quick breakfast. If I’m feeling motivated I have an English muffin or toast, but most days I eat a bowl of cereal. The nice thing about online learning is that you can eat during class. I eat my breakfast during the first few minutes of my second class. Another advantage is that you have the ability to leave class a little early. In some of my classes when the teacher finishes the material early, they dismiss online students, while the in-person students have to remain in the classroom until the bell rings. 

On red days, I have another eight-minute break before my third period starts. On black days, I have Care & Connect as my second class. Care & Connect doesn’t take up the allotted 80 minutes, leaving time for students to go to office hours. When I don’t use that time for office hours, I like to use that time to pick up food. This is another advantage of online school— I get to choose how to use my extra time and I’m allowed to leave. A few places that I like to pick up food from are Chipotle, South Block, and Noodles & Company. On red days, I usually make myself lunch during the 30 minutes we are given.

After my third class ends, I have another eight-minute break before my last class starts. I usually use these breaks to use the restroom, grab a snack or just relax for a bit. At 1:30 p.m., I log in to my last class for the day. After that, school is over for the day. Sometimes I have meetings for clubs after school, and normally I eat a little after school ends. Overall, I enjoy online learning because I can choose what to do with my time during breaks and lunch. Also, I don’t have to look presentable and I can attend class in my bed if I choose.