By Johanna Ziegler, student journalist for Minarets Press
O’NEALS — Almost 90 percent of the worldwide student population is out of school according to recent reports from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. In other words, more than 1.5 billion students across the planet have been sent home because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
In the United States alone, at least 124,000 public and private schools have closed down and sent home over 55 million students. With so many students at home for an undetermined amount of time, most schools have opted to switch to online classes. But learning to essentially home school oneself presents a unique array of challenges and perks.
For Minarets, school life now heavily revolves around weekly Zoom meetings (an online video chatting service) and a constant monitoring of PowerSchool and Gmail.
Lilly Kier, a junior at Minarets, explains the transition from a normal high school routine to online homeschooling, saying, “[I have] to check Powerschool more frequently, understand how to use Zoom, and communicate more efficiently.”
For Minarets, a tech-reliant school in which a majority of class assignments are normally completed online anyways, the transition has been somewhat smooth. But, Kier says, there have been frequent “technical difficulties and miscommunication” between teachers and students which complicates the learning process.
Other high schools are transitioning the same way.
Juliette Colunga, a junior at Buchanan High School in Clovis, explains her switch from high school to home school, and it strikes a similar chord as that of Minarets. “Teachers have been using Zoom for lectures and Google Classroom to post assignments…it doesn’t take much to adjust to the style since a lot of the work is already done using Google Classroom and the Google Suite.”
Genevieve Saldaña, a junior at Roosevelt High School in Fresno, agreed with Colunga’s assessment of the situation, saying, “[Roosevelt students] are given assignments on Google Classroom, College Board, and Khan Academy to help improve our grades and keep our minds ready and developing.” In addition, both Roosevelt and Minarets have started food distribution programs during this period of quarantine. As Saldaña explains it, these school programs especially help “families who can’t afford to feed their kids at home due to a lack of money or job income.”
But even with these positive efforts in place, Saldaña says this home school version of high school has been challenging, especially now that there is a lack of “face-to-face interaction.” Saldaña, who enrolled in the Roosevelt School of Arts as a dancer, adds, “My dance classes and choreography are in jeopardy.”
The new workload is also causing much heartburn for students. Colunga says, “I like that I can move at my own pace…[but] some teachers seem to think we have nothing to do at all and no other classes and [they’ve] heaped us up with assignments.”
According to Ziegler, “I’ve had to reorganize my day, and I’ve had to create a new schedule that accounts for the heavier workload that I have now that it’s all online.”
No matter what type of high school one attends, no matter what state one lives in, millions of us are going through the same ordeal — online classes, heavier workloads and the growing impatience of not being able to interact with friends on a daily basis. But take comfort in this: we’re all in the same boat. And struggling through these uncertain times together is better than struggling through alone.