Virtual school blues: Parents deal with pandemic-related school fluctuations
By Megan Kirk | Michigan Chronicle | word in black
(WIB) – The Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) reopened schools on April 12, 2022, but the ride of virtual learning is forcing parents to choose between educating their child and earning a living wage for to survive. As children return to school after spring break, along with the spike in Covid cases and resulting confusion, parents are once again faced with resurrected concerns about COVID safety, teacher preparedness and overall effects on education. DPSCD
At the peak of the year, parents and children have been sitting idly by as they await a decision from several school districts on whether children will enter the buildings for early 2022. Announcement after announcement parents have been disheartened to learn that for the first few weeks of the new school year, their children would return to virtual learning. Early spikes of the Omicron variant forced schools to close. For the parents, the last-minute decision created conflict as they struggled to accommodate their children as well as their work schedules.
“Me being home and them being home is just, sometimes it’s an adjustment,” said social worker and media personality Raquelle ‘Rocki’ Harris. “Sometimes it can be frustrating because I don’t have a specific office at home. Sometimes I had to be in the kitchen, sometimes in my bedroom. When you have a family, they will make noise.
With 20 years of experience in the field of social work, Harris has witnessed the effects that housekeeping has on children and their education.
“There’s nothing that beats in-person interactions,” Harris said.
Because kids today are technologically savvy, some younger students are adapting well to the virtual learning aspect. Unlike older children, those just starting out may be at an advantage because this is their first school experience.
“My child has actually adjusted better than I thought. Due to her age, I think it’s been easier for her because it’s technically her first year at school,” Sabrei Martin said. , business owner, employee, and mother of a 5-year-old and kindergarten student.
The DPSCD again welcomed students and faculty for in-person learning at the end of January. To ensure the safety of children and teachers, several measures are being taken to ensure that children can attend in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year.
“We know we will continue to have students and teachers who test positive. We will implement our learning center model in all schools to enable the continuation of in-person instruction. This model may include combining classrooms or hosting classes in spaces overseen by a team of employees, some of whom may also be from central office,” said Chrystal Wilson, assistant superintendent of communications for DPSCD, in a communicated.
“It will be a practical approach to prevent the switch to the Internet. We are working with families to ensure that 100% of our students have a consent form to test the COVID form on their file if they attend in person. Forms must be returned on January 31. We also encourage all eligible people, aged five and over, to receive the vaccine and the booster.
For some parents, security measures are not enough as they must prepare for the possibility that virtual learning will return at some point during the school year. In these unprecedented times, parents are looking for a balance between work, parenting and teaching their children.
“It’s a bit difficult to have a job where I have to go to the office. The school can decide to do virtual learning at any time,” Martin said. “Luckily I have a job where I work midnights but when I get off work I have to stay up so I can connect her to Zoom. The teacher is very good with the kids and I really only have to commit when my child has to change classes or answer test questions on the laptop. The kids had sessions before the Christmas holidays on how to navigate the laptop and mute/unmute themselves.”
In addition to full-time schedules and virtual learning, parents of children with unique learning or behavioral challenges need to exert another level of attention.
“My son has ADHD. He’s not harsh, but again, he’s the kind of kid who needs to be interactive. He must be in a classroom. He is a kinesthetic learner. He has to touch things,” Harris said. “Imagine for us, we all got sick of Zoom as adults. Imagine a kid sitting online most of the day. It’s just those challenges to keep them engaged.
As the year progresses, parents are eagerly waiting to see if kids will be forced to return to virtual learning or hybrid schedules. Parents hope for adjustments with advancement concerns for their children.
“Throw away the last two and a half school years. Some kids are fine, but for the most part, even educators agree that for the most part, a lot of kids are going to be missed,” Harris said.
Other parents are hoping schools will step in and change their approach to parents who are full-time employees.
“I feel like some students should be able to go to school, especially if their parents have to work. Schools should only be open to students who are unable to do virtual learning at home,” Martin said.
Support for this Sacramento OBSERVER article was provided to Word In Black (WIB) by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. WIB is a collaboration of 10 black-owned media that includes print and digital partners.