Thursday, September 24, 2020

Virtual School {Spoiler Alert: It isn't working for us!}

Tomorrow will end our 6th week of virtual learning. It started terribly with multiple technology issues all around. 

Last week I had the thought that we've gotten into a groove and that it has actually been going better. I quickly stopped myself though and realized that it hasn't gotten better, we've just all become absolutely numb to this new normal. 

Last March when the kids were sent home for our 2 week lock-down to flatten the curve, I never could have guessed that they would have been out of school for 6 months.  You read that has been over 6 months since my kids have been in school.  At first our county gave us a choice to send kids back face to face or start the school year virtually. However, just a few weeks before school was set to begin, they took that choice away and made everyone start virtually. Instead of new backpacks for the first day of school the kids got computers. 

We tried to make lemonade out of lemons. We set up cute work spaces for each of the kids, let them decorate their computers with stickers, and just about anything else I could think of to make this fun and exciting for them, but that fun and exciting didn't last long. 

The teachers, bless them, are doing the very best they can. But this is not school. Having to do PE alone is not school.  Having to do the majority of their work digitally instead of with paper/pencil is not school. 

Eating snack alone and not even being able to raise your hand and ask a question when you don't understand something is not school.  

Instead of getting excited about lockers, changing classes, and meeting new friends for my 6th grader, she got anxiety, stress, and confusion of starting middle school on-line. She also got a new wave of headaches EVERY SINGLE DAY from staring at a computer screen all day. 

My middle schoolers only get instruction in each class twice a week.  TWICE!  In what education world is it ok to have math twice a week?  Heaven forbid the days that they have technical issues either on their end or the teacher's side of things and they end up getting that class only once a week. How in the world do people making these decisions expect that our kids are not going to be behind?  

These kids feel so isolated. I have always thought that the social part of school is just as important as the academic side of things and it is truly sad to see my kids, alone every day, just wishing they could be with their friends.  

They can't even all have lunch together or play outside for "recess" because of different schedules!  So when my son is done with "school" for the day my older two are just getting started and I have to constantly remind him to be quiet so their Zoom calls aren't interrupted. 

Because of the different schedules I literally feel stuck in my house all day long. I've finally started to be able to run a quick errands or take a quick walk during their school hours, but I never feel like I can be too far away because there are a million "Mom I need you" calls for help a week.  I'm so thankful that I am able to be home and be there to support my kids with whatever they might need help with, but I just think about the many other students who don't have the same kind of support.  There are thousands of kids who have never once logged in to our online learning platform.  Who's looking out for those kids?  The education gap is only going to continue to widen and after 6 months with no school I can't imagine the regression teachers are going to be faced with when kids finally do get back in the classroom. 

My kids have been playing sports since May. Stores are open. Daycares are open. Restaurants are open. Many other school around us are open.  All of those things are going just FINE!!! My kids, who are all wishing they could just go to school, see their friends, and raise their hands to ask their teachers a question, are not fine. 

I have always been a huge supporter of public schools.  We built our house in one of the best public school districts because we felt strongly about our kids attending public school school vs. private.  My mom was a public school teacher. My husband and I both went to public schools. I was a public school teacher before having kids and now I currently serve as PTA president for one of our public schools.  However, this entire process has completely made me change my opinion.  It's sad, but so many other families feel the exact same way and have either pulled their children to home school them or put them in private schools.  

I don't pretend to know all of the answers, but I do know that kids can be in school and it can be successful. I'm so thankful for all of the teachers who are working harder than they ever have to try and reach these kids over a computer screen, but it will NEVER replace the in-person teaching and learning that our children so desperately need! 

Our county is finally offering a Face-to-Face option for Elementary kids starting in a few weeks and my son has never been happier. It will be several weeks after that date that my girls will be able to start back to Middle School and over a month away for High Schools to go back. 

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