This COVID-19 Pandemic is shaping up to be an interesting social experiment. With governments over-reacting, under-reacting, and politicizing every move made by world leaders. It’s been interesting to watch the press and many politicians more interested in blaming the President than trying to be part of the solution in hopes that they can replace him in November. But that’s not what I’m here to write about – it just makes a good comparison.
Schools, being local government organizations, seem to have made an equally varied response to the COVID-19 situation. Some school systems such as New York City (despite begin the hardest hit area in our country) remained open well past Social Distancing recommendations. Others have already given up and closed for the remainder of the school year.
Here in Duval County we have an interesting situation. The increase in closings hit while our students were on Spring Break, so the county decided to extend Spring Break for a week to figure out what to do. No big deal there. By Wednesday of that second week, the school district had a plan in place to deliver online classes to all its students, and even to provide laptops and internet access to any family who needed them.
They held a big press conference saying that they had created a big new site called Duval Homeroom. It is supposed to be a new portal leading with teachers assigning lessons on “sites the students are already familiar with” such as Achieve 3000, iReady, and Learning Blade. This will be the education plan in the county through April 15th. Great. We can do that. No problem.
Monday morning comes, and we get a call telling us we missed the morning announcements and need to log in to Microsoft Teams from the Homeroom. OK – nobody told us there would be required morning announcements. So, we log in and see that Duval Homeroom is just a page that links to my son’s pre-existing Student Dashboard. So we log in to MS Teams, pick a class, and he starts his math assignment.
We go on like this through the next couple hours, him doing his work, and me helping him figure our way through the Teams system. His goal is to push through the work on Monday and Tuesday and hopefully have at least Thursday and Friday off. Eventually he found a video from one of the teachers for her homeroom which has the daily schedule.
So, apparently, there is a daily schedule we are he is supposed to follow. In fact, he is supposed to be logged on to each class at a specific time for chats and lectures from his teachers. What that means for today is that, despite working all day, he managed to get 4 Unexcused Absences on his first day of online learning all because we never knew he was supposed to check in to each class. In his defense, I haven’t found any evidence that this was ever communicated to families.
Oh, well. One day down and about a month to go.