%22New+Year%2C+New+Camera+Policy%22%3B+students+at+computers+with+school+supplies+surrounding+them

Jordan Alvarado

“New Year, New Camera Policy”; students at computers with school supplies surrounding them

New Camera Policy

February 11, 2021

A new policy that requires students at Mt. SAC Early College Academy to have their cameras on at all times unless otherwise instructed during online school has been enacted, beginning at the start of this second semester. With a lack of connection due to the pandemic and quarantine, this new “camera-on” policy has the goal of improving engagement and connection amongst the school community. It also hopes to improve the learning environment by ensuring students are paying attention and not doing anything else while their cameras are off.

Many members of the Mt. SAC ECA community have differing opinions on the new camera policy. Here are some opinions from students and staff members.

Mrs. Berrong, an English teacher at Mt. SAC ECA, empathizes with students’ desire to keep their cameras off during these troubling times.

“Our ‘new normal’ doesn’t quite feel normal yet,” Berrong stated. “It’s been a tumultuous year, and many are wrestling with uncertainty, anxiety, and/or depression. Being on camera, for some can feel like one more stressor. Some days, I imagine, it just might feel too difficult for students to turn on their camera… and I think allowances for sensitive situations should be honored.”

Although she understands the students’ predicament, Mrs. Berrong believes having cameras on would effectively improve the student body’s emotional and academic well-being.

“While I respect the need to be off-camera, I do believe that it can become a Catch-22: the longer you stay silent and unseen, the harder it is to speak up and show up. And we all need each other so much right now– maybe more than ever before. So, as contrary as it may seem, I believe that actually connecting with others precisely when we feel isolated…is exactly what’s needed to get us back on the road to wellbeing.”

“What a Teacher Sees When Cameras Are Off”; Dylan Horowitz (with the camera off) and Jordan Alvarado in a breakout room (Jordan Alvarado)

Zoey Liang, a junior at Mt. SAC ECA, is not thrilled to have her camera on all the time due to this policy.

She believes “it could be weird that someone stares at your face the whole time when you’re not even having a conversation with this person.”

Zoey does, though, understand the necessity of the new policy.

“[The policy] does somewhat improve academic [wellbeing] overall. Because teachers and staff can see who’s participating,” Zoey stated.

Another person who questions this policy is Yara Elsayed, a freshman student at Mt. SAC ECA.
“I prefer the way it was before the policy was implemented,” Yara said. “I feel uncomfortable being watched through a screen. Especially if I have to sneeze or step away and my class can see my room behind me.”

With this information in mind, we can see there are clear advantages and disadvantages to using cameras during online school. The teachers do not have to be disconnected from their students while trying to teach and communicate with their students. With cameras off, teachers are also unsure if their teaching is effectively getting through to students.

However, some students might not be comfortable being on camera for long amounts of time. There are clear outliers, but clearly, the new camera policy will be very impactful on the online school experience, no matter what side you are on in this debate. If you are feeling uncomfortable during online class, you can choose to hide your tile on the google meet, you can wear a mask, or you can angle your camera so it does not show most of your face.

A survey of 28 students, varying in highschool grade, regarding the camera-on policy (Dylan Horowitz)

Although opinions vary, through an email sent regarding the second-semester changes, Ms. Leuthold, the principal of Mt. SAC ECA, stated, “We believe that Spring Semester 2021 will be brighter for all of us with this expectation and it is an opportunity to come together to connect and communicate a little more as well as understand each other more completely.”

So, remember to keep cameras on and try your best in classes!

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