By Mayra Becerra
Although the 2019-2020 school year ended in May for most students, Friday, March 13th, 2020 is a date that they will remember for years to come. Most VUSD students who attended classes in person last year left school that Friday believing they would be returning Monday. Students of all ages were initially shocked, some were even happy to know that classes had been canceled for two weeks, although these two weeks turned out to be months instead.
Over the summer parents, students, and teachers, wondered how the reopening of VUSD would look like in the fall of 2020. As announcements from our Governor about Tulare County, being one of many, unsafe for schools to open. Parents waited to hear from the school on what this meant for their students. Many parents became frustrated because they felt that they were not given enough information or direction on what to expect, or how to prepare for this huge change in education.
The idea of virtual classrooms went from uncharted territory to our current model of teaching and learning. The school year started for most students with a Chromebook pick up drive-thru event. Because of social distancing, parents were told they had to drive and could not get out of their vehicles. Depending on the school, some parents waited over two hours to pick up their students’ Chromebooks.
On Thursday, August 10th, students across the district started their class day logging into Schoology finding the link to their Zoom class and joining their classmates virtually. Although this sounds easy enough, students navigated challenges like links not working, not being able to log in, and WiFI issues among other problems. While some families are tech-savvy, there are many other families who are not. Some parents turned to friends and coworkers asking for help learning how to help their children succeed in this entirely new method of schooling.
Students’ school schedules have also changed drastically. Most students have always attended school from 8:20 am to 3:00 pm. In this new model, most students are taught virtually for about 3 hours, 4 days a week and their Wednesday is a shorter day designed for interventions and small groups. Some attend morning classes while others attend the afternoon sessions.
Although students are happy to see their friends through the screens some students have expressed the desire to have more interaction with their peers. Yet, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread virtual learning seems like it will be normal at least for the next few months.