Photo: Maria Symchych/Shutterstock

To mitigate the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), California Gov. Gavin  Newsom closed the state’s school campuses for the safety of staff, parents, and children. More than 90% of students in California are required to start the 2020-2021 school year virtually.  

California is ranked as the number one state in COVID-19 cases with more than 600,000 people infected.

As the new school year begins, teachers, parents, and students feel a bit uneasy about navigating the waters of distance learning. 

“I feel anxious… Because I want to meet the students and I know online will be difficult,” fifth grade teacher for El Monte School Unified District, Sylvia Cuevas, told Scriberr News.

“(Online education) is not ideal, but it’s very necessary for the safety of everybody,” Cuevas said. 

“It’s the best thing we can do because we need to follow state guidelines and it’s for the students to be safe at home,” assistant principal at Hilda L. Solis Learning Academy at Los Angeles Unified School District, Marlene Correa, told Scriberr News.

And while many agree online education may be the safest option, there are challenges with the new learning model.  

Cuevas is worried about her students who don’t have internet access.

“It is very challenging… to reach the families who don’t have internet access,” Cuevas said.

Alongside communication difficulties, it’ll be a challenge to engage children in virtual meetings and lessons. 

“Losing attention is one of my biggest concerns in first graders,” a teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District who asked to stay anonymous, told Scriberr News. 

“My biggest fear is making the Zoom meetings meaningful… It’s really important for teachers to go a little beyond what they would do in the classrooms,” they said.

“One of the most important things… is going to be mostly to connect with each other,” Cuevas added.

“I know how much support means to them,” Cuevas said.

Correa said teachers will have to work hard and make the students feel taken care of and build a bond with them because it is important when teaching a class.

“Teachers are going to have to do a lot of connections and check in with (students),” Correa said.

Just like teachers, parents are facing a difficult time transitioning to online education, as they’ll have to balance full-time jobs with their child’s distance learning.   

“My biggest challenge is working full time and staying with my kids,” Carmen Aparicio-Wheelock, mother of a fifth grader and first grader at El Monte Unified School District, told Scriberr News.

Wheelock asked her boss if she can work part time because it has been overwhelming taking care of both her children and working full time.

“I’m just trying to take it one day at a time,” Wheelock said.

And students are having trouble staying home all day.

“Staying at home, 24 hours a day… it’s something I’m not used to,” incoming sixth grader at Arcadia Unified School District, Kamila Chavez told Scriberr News.

“I miss my friends… I haven’t seen them or connected with them. I feel like we need to talk to people and connect with them,” Chavez said.

While online education is inevitable for some school districts, there are still concerns about the impacts of virtual learning. 

“I’m not even sure how this (online education) is [going to] go… I think they’re still trying to figure it out at school,” Wheelock said.  

Wheelock explained she’s nervous about her first grader falling behind in school and if the teachers will be available like they were in the classroom.

Students are concerned about their education as well.

“I feel like in person is where we actually learn something… I’m probably behind in everything,” Chavez said.

Correa said the district is working hard to prepare for this upcoming school year.

“Teachers are doing a lot of training to prepare themselves,” Correa told Scriberr News.

“The district prepared 25 lessons for the first 25 days of school. They were given ideas, technology tools, and how to engage them,” Correa said.

Although some parents are worried about their child’s education or going virtual, some parents believe their child will be okay.

Wendy Carrera, mother of a first-grader and 9th grader, has faith in the teachers.

“I feel confident that academically the teachers are doing a phenomenal job in preparing and teaching,” Carrera said. 

“I feel that going online prepares them for the future technologically,” Carrera added.

Written ByAnel Cabellos

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