Cameras Off?


Photo taken by Kiran Matthews

A view into the blank screens of virtual school classes.

Kiran Matthews, Entertainment Editor

Hey Black Knight students, do you keep your camera off in every class? Do you ever wonder why so many students do? Or how teachers feel about it? This article will be diving deep into student and teacher opinions regarding those specific questions.


In a recent survey, 59.8% of students claimed they keep their cameras off routinely during daily zoom classes. With this resulted percentage, it seems clear the general consensus is more than half of Charlottesville High School students prefer to keep their face hidden from view.


This choice could be a result of many separate factors. Some claim having their camera on causes a lot of anxiety or stress, or that they have wifi problems which prevent them from keeping their camera on frequently. Others agree the social pressure of everyone else having their camera off influences their own decision. With school being online, and the structure of Zoom’s face to face format, many individuals don’t feel comfortable being constantly displayed when working on in-class assignments. Common student opinions are that it’s easier, or more comfortable to leave their screen blank and continue without this visual interaction. An anonymous student responded, “having my camera on makes me feel like everyone is looking at me all the time”, and with classmate faces being widely visible to everyone, it is common that this feeling may arise. Along with this comes the easy way to battle it; simply turning the camera off.


Many students also explained having their camera on in class makes learning even more challenging than it already is in a virtual classroom. With so many screens and background distraction occurring throughout classes, following others faces has become more habitual than watching the instructor. Instead of being in physical class and facing an in-person teacher, students must watch a tiny screen throughout the day. Drifting into distraction has been made remarkably easy, especially when pulling out your phone comes as a quick instinct. 30.0% of students agreed they focused better with their camera off. Some said it helped them stay on task, while others agreed it made focusing on material much harder. Sophomore Aly Seidman said “I pay attention better if I have my camera off because I’m not worried about other people seeing me”, which is reasonable considering the recurring feeling of being stared at 24/7. With student opinions being stated, how do teachers feel about the virtual phenomenon?


Many of you have heard your teachers mention how challenging it is to be teaching directly to a screen, especially when they can’t see their students’ faces. Teaching in this kind of environment is a whole new struggle 2020 has been plagued with. It is important to consider that teachers might feel the same struggles your fellow peers do. The hardest aspect of virtual teaching might be directly connected to the lack of interaction between students and teachers. ”I miss seeing students’ faces. Teaching virtually is such a strange and two dimensional world” said Ms.Mildonian, an art teacher here at C.H.S. The common view from teachers is that they have absolute understanding as to why students chose to keep their camera off, but see it as a continuous divide between students and teachers. This can be difficult to work around in learning environments. 


While virtual learning and interaction struggles may be a tough barrier to overcome while online school continues, it is in hopes that Charlottesville Highschool is able to continue its sense of community, even if that means through a virtual world.