Back to School: Through the Eyes of Many
Getting ready to go back to school has always been a thrilling experience. Getting all the school supplies needed, meeting new teachers, meeting new students, and the first day of school. It’s like starting a new chapter in your life. The excitement and the nerves are so surreal. Little did we know the school year of 2020-21 would be a year to remember for other reasons.
At the beginning of all this madness, I was all for doing online school, until I started. The feeling of being overwhelmed has taken over in the short amount of time school has begun. Being unmotivated to complete assignments thinking, “I don’t need to do this right away, I have plenty of time.” Learning new material only through a PowerPoint and plans to graduate early thrown out the window.
School reopening plans not only affect students but parents, legal guardians and teachers alike. Many questions and concerns flood minds. How are the decisions being made affect scholars and their families, and what are their thoughts on this subject? I set out to speak to those close to me and got their answers to these questions.
School Reopening Plan
Schools in the Mesa School Districts will be remote learning until it is appropriate to return to in-person instruction. For the students who are uncomfortable returning in-person, they will be allowed to continue online. The majority of schools will require students to wear face masks at appropriate times. Students are also being encouraged to wash their hands before class, before and after lunch, and when school is out.
The Perspective of a Parent & Legal Guardian
The effects on parents with the current model of at-home learning in place leaves the parents and the teacher at a higher stress level.
“I believe for the at-home model to be successful for the students, it is imperative to have excellent communication with the teacher and work together as a team. With that being said, for parents that work outside of the home, this can be challenging,” shared Arlene Erran, a Clinical Appeals and Grievances Review Nurse. She also has three kids—the youngest being in fourth grade, middle child a freshman, and oldest a junior in high school.
“I am fortunate enough to have a current position where I work at home, and my company has been supportive and flexible to make sure that my schedule works for my children. Even with the support of my current manager at times, you feel overwhelmed being pulled in the direction of making sure your children have everything they need, and their days are going well at school as well as trying to work at the same time. There are days where you get interrupted several times with questions, and frustration rises, but you just work through it. The inconvenience outweighs the risk of doing in-person learning modules at this time. It’s imperative as a community we all pull together and do our part,” she said.
Parents are finding it frustrating and challenging to navigate around the computers to help their children. Every school district has a different set up on the laptops, so knowing how to navigate one device may not be helpful to navigate around another.
“Students should go back in person. It is harder for younger students to pay attention. Parents are busy working, and older siblings are focusing on their work. It’s not the older siblings’ responsibility to have to teach their younger siblings.” said Lolly Espinoza, retired from the Postal Office, who is the grandmother of Arlene Erran’s children.
While some parents think it’s best to have scholars be on campus for school, some think it is best to keep them home where they are safe.
“It’s nice to know where my kids are at all times, and I don’t want them to go to school with what’s going on,” said Guy Erran, spouse of Arlene Erran.
Those who have to go into work while their child does school work from home would say it’s a challenge.
“First challenge was to figure out who could help my child with his schooling. Second challenge was how much to pay my niece for helping my son. Third challenge was having to deal with the back and forth emails from the teachers while at work. The last challenge would be trying to figure out all the assignments my child has to do for the week,” Yvonne Erran, a mother of two, one who is a fifth-grader and the other who has completed school.
The Perspective of an Educator
The safety precautions individuals take are not only to benefit ourselves but those around us. It’s like staying in your room and taking medicine to get better when ill. We do these things out of respect for those around us so they don’t get sick and can be healthy once again.
“While I am not worried for myself and take precautions for those that I know that are high risk, I also believe that part of being a good citizen is thinking of the well being of others, so I approve of mask-wearing for students and teachers until the risk of infection has decreased significantly,” shared a math teacher, who has asked to remain anonymous.
Some families don’t have the resources needed for their children to do school work from home. Some parents can’t afford laptops or don’t have time to prepare lunch for their children. Some families need financial help and depend on the schools.
“There’s no access to students; parents are harder to contact. Families don’t have the resources to have students at home while they are at work. Many families don’t have access to the internet. Parents are stressing because their child can’t get the same education as a child who has a parent that has the resources. They can’t afford to send their kid to daycare, and many of the families rely on us to provide resources,” said Danielle Quihuis, an after school youth coordinator.
Through the Eyes of a Student
You’d think students would be exhilarated with not going back to in-person instruction. They don’t need to get up from their bed or get ready. They can just wake up, open up their laptops/computers, and work on their assignments. This is not the case for most.
Elementary students are struggling with online work. Unlike older scholars, they don’t have much experience doing schoolwork on a computer. They begin to feel overwhelmed and helpless because they don’t know what to do.
“It affects my grades and myself,” said Ava Erran, a fourth-grade student at Franklin at Alma. Because students are teaching themselves, it begins to affect their grades. They are stressing over how to complete and assignment and turn it in.
High school students are also finding it hard to be motivated to complete their work, while often procrastinating.
“We can’t just stay quarantined forever,” said Addison Brinkerhoff, a junior in high school at Heritage Academy.
Many students are eager to get back to campus and be with their friends. They find it easier to be in person rather than online. “Online is harder to focus,” said Sebastian Abril Flores, a junior high school at Heritage Academy. At home, there are distractions like your phone, siblings, music, TV and commotion around the house.
“As far as the goals I had for school, the pandemic has not changed them. However, they have complicated them. I noticed by the end of my normal school day, I was tired and frustrated from looking at a screen all day, just to turn around and continue working on my online college classes,” said Eviana Ramirez, a freshman at Rio Salado.
For the students who had to finish their senior year of high school online, it was not easy. Some were not only completing their classes to graduate high school but doing additional courses to earn college credits. Work just keeps adding on to what they already are doing and begins to become stressful.
Students, parents, legal guardians, and educators all have their worries and concerns about the reopening of schools. Everyone has different hardships in the chaos that is going on, but that doesn’t stop them from keeping their heads up and look at the positive side of our current situation.
Yes, there are pros and cons to this situation, along with different views, but these are the times we are in. We ended our 2019-20 school years online and are now beginning our 2020-21 school year the same way. It may be difficult for most, and some may not care, but schools are trying their best to decide what is best for students and educators.