Virtual School Challenges–today’s experience, and collection of articles helpful to you in 2021

The day was off to a good start. I had 9 hours of solid sleep, dressed up a bit more than usual, even my hair cooperated. When making breakfast, everyone seemed to know what they wanted to eat, those not fasting, for today is the start of Ramadan. Ramadan Mubarak!

But then things changed. 30 minutes before my older child’s meet, we couldn’t find his computer. We usually have two computers available, however this morning we couldn’t find our second. So I let him use mine while I looked around for the missing device. His zoom meet began and 15 minutes in, I had to take him off so my younger son could start his meet. This meant that my older son would miss his zoom math meet which was at the same time. Then things began to get tough, as he couldn’t check his work, or even work on any assignments, as the computer was in use by my younger child. When my younger child’s zoom meet was done, I switched back to my older son’s account and we discovered that his science project needed to be printed out. We were out of ink, and here it is way too expensive to replace. Families often run into this problem, or just don’t have a printer at all. The teacher had asked the students last week if they had access to a printer. Only half did.

With 10 minutes to spare until the next zoom meet, I moved us down the road and into our compound clubhouse, so our lovely activities director could print out the pages we needed. The next zoom meet started there at the clubhouse, however about 10 minutes in, the computer ran out of battery. We quickly gathered up our things and returned home to continue the meet. After I plugged my computer in, my son had to tell his teacher he hadn’t heard the instructions for the project, because he had just got home from trying to get his things printed.

So right after that meet I logged onto both my kid’s accounts, in between zoom meetings, and sent two separate emails apologizing for today’s chaos, as we were operating with only one computer. One of the teachers asked my son in the afternoon closing zoom meet, how it went today with only one computer. His reply was, “it was alright”, but he knew how stressful the day had been, especially for me. Did we finish all the work? No. My younger child did ok, but my older child just wasn’t into all of the work today. And I, well, I was very close to checking a mental box that read, “I don’t care anymore”.

You probably would like to know how the day ends. Did we find the missing computer? After searching through the house before dinner, once again, I finally found it sandwiched between some books, on a shelf in my kid’s room. No one is owning up to putting it there, including me, as just maybe I did put it there. Maybe no one wanted it found? Maybe I was trying to save it from being thrown out the window in exasperation? Our mental and emotional faculties are failing. It’s a cliffhanger ending, just like the continuing virtual school experience.

It has been over a year now since my kids have been physically in a real school.

Sincerely I am asking the million dollar questions: Where’s the guidebook for this type of life? Where’s the directions for how to continue? Would homeschool be a better option, given we are failing at virtual school?

Here’s the logic equation: One year of virtual school = 30 days of spa for all virtual parents.

So in these trying times, here is a collection of articles that may help you, if you find yourself in the same boat I am rowing. They may lift your spirits, or help you feel heard, noticed or give some empathy to your efforts.

Martin, Erika G. and Lucy C. Sorensen. “Protecting the Health of Vulnerable Children and Adolescents During COVID-19–Related K-12 School Closures in the US”, JAMA, June 2020. This article concerns US students and helping the most vulnerable meet virtual school demands. It discusses at-risk kids with health concerns, meal delivery, tutors, local governments suppling online equipment to students, etc.

https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411

Rose, Suzanne, MD. “Medical Student Education in the Time of COVID-19”, JAMA, 2020. This article is about how there may be a shortage in the medical field due to restrictions in medical schools due to Covid-19. Discusses how some disciplines offer online education, but fail when you need practical knowledge firsthand, not from a computer.

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2764138

Kamenetz, Anya. “5 Things We’ve Learned About Virtual School In 2020”, npr.org, 4 Dec. 2020. This article really delves into the issues with learning virtually for all grade levels. Not everyone has the same resources, home life, supported teachers, and can learn this way.

https://www.npr.org/2020/12/04/938050723/5-things-weve-learned-about-virtual-school-in-2020

Gould, Emily. “Remote Learning Is a Bad Joke”, theatlantic.com, 18 Aug. 2020. Well this title speaks for itself. It is the author’s personal experience with a preschooler attending daily zoom meetings, how it has changed him and how it has affected the family environment. I think a lot of us can empathize with this family.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/08/kindergartener-virtual-education

Black, Erik, Richard Ferdig and Lindsay A. Thompson. “K-12 Virtual Schooling, COVID-19, and Student Success”, JAMA, 11 Aug. 2020. This article talks about the history of virtual school and programs, before the Covid pandemic. How virtual schools operate normally (as everything in their programs is meant to be online). Also what would make you or your student a good candidate for an online education.

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2769434

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