When COVID-19 hit, we all had to make adjustments for survival, including remote learning. However, the adjustment is more severe for some than others. College and some High School students had the advantage of online classes to prepare them for this inevitability, yet there is one sector of the general public that was not so ready, Elementary School.
I recently spoke to Jazzmine Rosales, Ron Hathorne and Elizabeth McLaughlin, all management specialists living in San Antonio, about their experiences with Remote Learning in the Age of COVID-19.
Although they have no prior experience in education, and admittedly all novices, they believe this a necessary evil in the post-Covid America. Rosales said, “There is no way I would have felt comfortable sending my kinds into a physical classroom [during Covid-19].” This sentiment is shared by all who were interviewed.
Her district, Judson Independent School District, has done a decent job getting their system up and running but there were a few hiccups in the beginning, “In theory this was a great project, but there seemed to be some issues in implementation.” She is referring to the massive ZOOM outage that shook the nation on the first day of school. Classes all over the country were disconnected and the interference put a hampering on the learning environment. This, of course, was not Judson Independent School District’s fault; however issues with their implementation of CANVAS (the district’s substitute for Blackboard) were wrought with glitches and connection issues during the first week causing headaches for many families. McLaughlin also said North East Independent School District was also lax in terms of preparedness, “We really didn’t get a whole lot of anything. It was just, ‘Log in here.’ and there you go.” Hathorne, appears to be the only parent interviewed who had a smooth and seamless transition through Northside Independent School district. Northside is using Blackboard as their primary operating system. “[Northside] did great. They let us know about a month ahead of time. I mean, it’s been a learning process, but I’ve been fairly impressed.”
Although the technical issues were evident, Rosales showed gratitude towards Judson Independent School District, “In fairness, things like these take years to develop and they did it in two or three months; I cannot complain, honestly. I think they have done great.”
As the mother of a student with dyslexia, Rosales says she has had a difficult time adapting to the new routines and schedules. The district has asked the children to monitor themselves in terms of where they are supposed to be and at what time. For some this isn’t the only challenge, “She is having a hard time keeping up with the class, not because she doesn’t know the answers, but because she needs help reading the questions and it takes her a bit longer to process and catch up to the rest of the class.” McLaughlin also added her dissatisfaction with the process of self-monitoring, “It is a lot of self-direction on the children and not every child can do that. That is not fine.” Hathorne has a much different perspective, “My six year old has learned to navigate [Blackboard] by herself and this has given her a degree of independence.”
To Judson and North East’s credit, they did manage to provide a laptop to children in need of a device in order to participate in the programs. Ms. Rosales feels that despite the amount of criticism she has seen online and in the media that “…a little kindness will go a long way and a little understanding will go a really long way.”