Transitioning to distance learning with Zoom


Christine Guido '20

Sacred Heart Greenwich students use the application Zoom for distance learning in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), schools around the world have transitioned their students to distance learning.  Sacred Heart Greenwich converted classes to the application Zoom Video Communications, Incorporated for online video conferencing in digital classrooms March 12.

Students and teachers are meeting online with Zoom, much like a normal school day.  The school day starts at 8:30 a.m. with an advisory check-in, and ends at 1:45 p.m.  Each class lasts 30 minutes, and there are 15-minute breaks in between class periods to allow students screen-free time.  From 2:00 to 2:30 p.m., students have the option to attend a Community Wellness activity on Zoom, or complete a wellness task on their own.   Additionally, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., students can meet with teachers regarding assignments.

Christine Guido ’20

Zoom provides online chat services using a cloud-based platform for teleconferencing, telecommuting, distance education, and social relations, according to zoom.usMr. Karl Haeseler, Director of Educational Technology and Upper School Computer Teacher, and Co-Director of SophieConnect, explained that Sacred Heart used Zoom for its SophieConnect courses before distance-learning was put into place.

“The school already had experience using Zoom and an existing license through SophieConnect, which allowed us to up-scale immediately with several teachers already having been trained on the software,” Mr. Haeseler said.  “We also gave Google Meet serious consideration because we are a Google Apps for Education school, hence it would make sense to stay consistent with Google, however, at the time we had to make a decision Meet had major flaws [such as there was] no distinction between host and participant, [and] everyone had the ability to terminate or remove participants.  Meet also didn’t have breakout rooms and other features we felt are important.”

Mrs. Jillian Bozzi, Upper School History Teacher, noted that while Sacred Heart prepared all teachers for the transition to distance learning, it is much different from teaching an in-person class and has new demands and requirements.

“I think the biggest challenge was the unknown.  Even though we had been trained over several sessions on using Zoom, I don’t think anyone was really prepared for how long this is turning out to be,” Mrs. Bozzi said.  “The most difficult aspect for me has been not having the in-person interaction with my students.  Many of my lessons are rooted in class discussion, which is all capable over zoom, however, reading a room full of students is much easier than reading a zoom.”

In Mrs. Jillian Bozzi’s psychology class, Christine Guido ’20, Carly Haines ’20, and Megan Farrell ’20 learn about the different types of schizophrenia over Zoom.  Christine Guido ’20

Numerous students left their books at school because they did not expect to be away from Sacred Heart for such a long period of time.  Senior Carly Haines is currently away from home and self-isolating in Bradenton, Florida with her family.  A challenge she faced with her location was not having her books at the beginning of distance learning.

“When we transitioned to distance learning I was concerned because I did not have any of my books in Florida so I had to have my grandma go to my house and ship all of my books down,” Carly said.

Mrs. Bozzi added that while this year has a different ending than planned, she is appreciative that she gets to see her students every day.

“My favorite part of teaching on Zoom is that there still is an interactive component and I get to see my students every day,” Mrs. Bozzi said.  “As a teacher, you build a relationship with your classes over the school year and although the conclusion of our year together is unique, I’m grateful to still be able to see them through and finish our story.”

Featured Image by Christine Guido ’20