I was in the newspaper club the day before school closed and I was talking to a couple of the staff members… The energy of the whole school day was different because there were these new ominous headlines about the coronavirus appearing across the country. I remember this one girl was asked to update new numbers on our coronavirus article and just thinking about how grave the situation was. I knew that things wouldn’t just disappear and that the American “it will all just work out” mindset was incorrect. Then the bell rang and the girl was still trying to gather the updated statistics on the coronavirus, but I doubt she ever finished that article….
After that, they closed school for two weeks, and then a month, and then the Governor announced that there would be no more school… The news came at a time where there was a switch in the general attitude of the public so I wasn’t too shocked by the timing of it… we all saw it coming, as other schools were starting to close as well. A school in the county next to us had taken a day off to prep for distance learning, but our school hadn’t had anything of the sort. I really don't think that our school handled it very well from that point on.
Distance learning was a little rocky to begin with because it felt impersonal and rushed. The teachers weren’t prepared and that translated into how we received the material that they were teaching. Personally, I don’t think I was as self-motivated as I should have been because there was just such minimal contact with teachers. Every time I contacted them, their response was “it’s on the county website”— but that website failed to answer my questions about grading or any of my other concerns as a student.
During my first Zoom call with my calculus teacher, he began the lesson by saying that he was only allowed to give 30 minutes of direct instruction with students a week. Normally, we would have that much time nine times over in a week, so it was a massive difference from what we were used to, especially for such a fast paced course. Obviously he had to move past the 30 minute limit to adequately teach us, but I don’t blame him because I know that he wanted us to teach us what we had to know in order to succeed. It seemed like he really cared, which was reassuring. Especially in comparison to my chemistry teacher, who I heard from only once during the distance learning period and who told us to “enjoy our time off”. Our chemistry teacher barely assigned us any work, but what he did assign was through Momentum, an education platform which hardly worked as well.
The grading policy became a pass/no pass system which I had to clarify with multiple teachers because everyone seemed to have a different idea of what the policy entailed. Eventually, I clarified it with my counselor, who told me that it would not appear on my transcript but that it could improve my GPA if I did well on the online course.
I knew that the United States wasn’t going to handle the coronavirus as well as they should have due to the lack of foreclosure on the issue. They knew what was going on but failed to acknowledge it before it was too late. As this was all happening, I was definitely concerned because as I was taking many classes in preparation for AP’s next year, it felt like everything was just getting thrown out of the window.
Written by: Tony He