On March 16th, more than 90% of California schools closed their doors due to the Coronavirus. The same day, most cities mandated shelter-in-place orders and families were scrambling to find a way to complete daily tasks while under one roof. Local leaders have tried to provide assistance while families are adjusting, but the support for teenage students has left something to be desired. Where one problem is solved, another is there to take its place, and the government is slow in patching the holes.
A steady stream of news has kept the public informed with updates on the historic COVID-19 virus. In just a few short weeks, the country went from observing foreign nations to franticly following in their footsteps. Now, just over a month after the official shelter-in-place order released by Gov. Newsom, citizens are still trying to adjust to their “new normal.” As local governments get their footing, they are attempting to provide assistance amidst the chaos; but some schools are falling short in their efforts to continue education.
Parents of children young and old are being asked to assist in ways that they aren’t equipped to handle. Although many parents want their kids to do well in their education, some parents can’t provide the same backing that others can. California is an extremely diverse state. In metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and San Francisco, there are many immigrant families where parents aren’t fluent in English. Some parents can’t communicate with the schools to get assistance that they need.
Virtual town hall meetings have been hosted regularly and they usually have translators for the most common languages in the state. Recently, a town hall meeting hosted by state senator Steve Glazer opened to try and address the concerns of parents and schooling. Guest speaking during this event was Denise Pope, an expert in child education, who provided advice on ways to keep children engaged during this time.
Her main points included finding a balance between “P.D.F” which stands for playtime, downtime, and family time. While her advice was helpful for parents with young children, it wasn’t as straight forward for parents of teenagers. Many parents were left wondering how to manage their older children.
All the support and encouragement parents are willing to give can’t change the fact that some schools can’t reach their students adequately. Many schools are turning to online teaching, but what happens when their students can’t access a computer? According to LA Times writers Howard Blume and Sonali Kohli, thousands of high school students are labeled as “absent” every day because they don’t appear in virtual classes. In this day and age, it seems almost impossible that students can’t reach the internet, but in reality, computer access can be extremely difficult for some families. In lower income communities, internet access can be difficult to come by.
Some schools have had laptops ready to loan out to students for years but getting these supplies to these students can be very difficult. Thousands of California youth rely on schools to provide supplies for them during the school year, and now they’ve been all but abandoned because they can’t reach the same level of attention.
If both of these problems were solved, we’re still left with one major issue: many students can’t stay engaged at home. Expecting high school students to remain focused on class all day while they are bombarded with the distractions of their household is almost impossible. Being trapped in a house with family can be really uncomfortable for many people. Family tension isn’t conducive to productive learning. Students with learning disabilities can struggle even more to grasp material in this new online world.
In the middle of a global crisis, we are trying to find normalcy in any way we can. Most teenagers, even those who gripe about school, depend on their education to bring them purpose. Now, with the looming possibility that school will be online in the fall, students are wondering how they’ll be able to cope; and the biggest question is, will the government be any better about it then?
I completely agree, during this unprecedented time education is getting hit hard. In the matter of a week elementary, middle school, and high school teachers were forced to adapt their classes to remote learning, when most of these teachers have never had the experience of teaching an online class. It is very true that while technology has greatly advanced, access to it is still difficult, especially for low income household. So while these students are being marked absence for no fault of their own and missing out on their education, they are also dealing with lack of food and support (other important things schools provide for students other than education). I really appreciate that you included the added struggle for students with learning disabilities. While suddenly having to take on the role of teacher at home can be difficult for parents, it is even more difficult for parents who’s children have learning disabilities. COVID-19 has undoubtedly made receiving a good quality education difficult. Even college students who have a pretty good grasp on school are not receiving the level of education they would be if universities were open to them.
Claire, I really enjoyed reading your blog post. I completely agree that for many, schools provide structure, tools, and a safe haven for those who do not have that at home. I cannot agree enough about the challenges that parents must be facing not only having to parent but becoming a home school teacher. Some jobs have provided parents and adults to work from home, so not only do parents still have to work to afford the roof over their children’s heads but now they have to teach them too– a lot of parents have not been in school in a while & teaching styles and content has changed quite a bit. I do not think that the California government is taking into account that a lot of students may not have access to wifi, let alone have phones. How are they supposed to attend a virtual class meeting when they do not have the means to do so? Marking a child absent due to inaccessibility to resources is just wrong- it is up to the school district to accommodate those who lack the resources. The government is said to be doing the best that they can do, but what is classified as the best? Depriving a child of their stability and education is not what I would say the best they can do. College students are facing the same struggles and lack of resources. We have faced these same stability issues, lack of resources, and are simply told that our thousands of dollars we are spending on our education will be compensated using zoom.
Your blog post is interesting. I enjoyed reading it. I somewhat agree with you about the education in this time. The corona virus clearly have an impact on education. Many teachers and students have to put more efforts to have the classes going. Online classes can be helpful at a certain, not as a regular classes at school. In this particular time, it is extremely difficult for teachers, who can set up classes for low- income students and disability students. Education can be postponed because the health of people is the most important thing
I really enjoyed your take on this. I think the reality of home life is so so different for everyone, whether it be a safer and happier place, or a dangerous and more stressful one. This makes keeping up with schooling, whether it be primary, secondary, or post secondary school, far too dependent on the quality of life and access to resources at home. And as you pointed out, this poses many issues regarding effective teaching, and fair discipline (say for missing virtual classes/assignments). Also, many kids struggle with academic work ethic and structuring themselves, which can be helped when in school. More importantly, thousands of kids rely on school for 2 meals a day. Not having that structure and supply of resources from school is a huge loss for needy kids and their families. I like that you put an emphasis on government response to this issue, but I fear it is one of many holes that will go without being patched up.
This is such an important point to discuss right now!!! I have noticed that a lot of people are concerned about families with young children, as they should be, but I feel the lack of concern for teenagers and young adults is troubling. In addition to your point about the marked absences due to a lack of access to a computer, there are many students who relied on their schools for breakfast and lunch, and without those meals, they wouldn’t eat those days. The world is a scary place right now.