Students at a Virginia fifth grade classroom told President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden Monday that virtual learning gave them the chance to eat, take naps, and even fake technical glitches in order to avoid answering questions.
The school, Yorktown Elementary School, is now open four days per week, with students attending Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Students don't come to class Wednesday so the school can be cleaned.
One said, "if we were really tired, we could like take a little nap." Another said, "sometimes when Ms. B was like paying attention to something else you could eat and it was fun." Yet another student added that, "If you don't know the question, you can just pretend like your mic doesn't work."
The students showed the Bidens their science projects before President Biden later asked the students how they liked learning virtually.
"It was OK," another said, as other students weighed in, some seeming to groan.
"I didn't like virtual," one student said in response to a question from Jill Biden. "It was terrible."
"I liked it," another student said.
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"It was difficult with all the glitches, but it ended up being pretty good. I definitely prefer it this way," said yet another.
The teacher, who goes by Ms. B lauded the benefits of in-person learning to the president and first lady.
"Our students actually have a lot of opportunities to work hands-on with materials like this all the time. My class knows I love science so I try to incorporate as much hands-on activity as possible," she said.
"With York County's return-to-school plan, our students, yes, they're distanced, they have their masks on, they have their shields for their extra safety measures and their desks are wiped down," Ms. B added.
Students, relegated in many states to virtual learning for much of the pandemic, fell behind academically in the past year.
A study last year from Fairfax County, Va., Public Schools Office of Research and Strategic Improvement suggests middle and high school students are seeing less academic success as a result of online learning.
The percentage of students with two or more F marks, for example, increased 83% from 6% to 11% in the first quarter of the 2020-2021 school year compared to the first quarter of the 2019-2020 school year. Students with disabilities and non-English speakers experienced the largest increase in F marks.
A separate survey of parents by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meanwhile, found that parents of children who learned virtually reported worse outcomes for their kids on 11 of 17 stress and well-being indicators compared to kids who went to school for in-person instruction.
"Findings suggest that virtual instruction might present more risks than does in-person instruction related to child and parental mental and emotional health and some health-supporting behaviors," the CDC authors wrote.
The Biden administration, meanwhile, has faced criticism for consulting the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the nation's second-largest teachers union, on its school reopening guidelines.
Fox News' Audrey Conklin, Caitlin McFall and Paul Best contributed to this report.