Online School: Let’s Review

The year is 2020.

Everyone thinks the world is ending and it's only January.

After everything that's already happened so far, people are already titling it as the worst year ever with the deaths of famous celebrities, the Australia fires, and the disease that no one seems to understand, Covid-19.

So far though, the disease has been in the back of many people in Mesa's mind, but that wouldn’t last long.

As the weeks continued, more and more people seemed to be talking about it and as more and more time passed, more and more schools shut down. T

he clock was ticking away at when Mesa would finally shut down.

Once March had arrived, COVID was the only thing on people's minds.
Many schools had already shut down, which is when COVID really started becoming the main thing on people's minds.

Then the famous day came March 13th. Many people sitting in their final period of the day checked their phones to see that we had shut down.

Students, teachers, and parents reacted in many different ways.

Some described the event as a very scary wake up call to what was actually happening in the world surrounding them. Seeing it affect them like it had affected so many others was terrifying.

Other people celebrated this shut down and viewed it as simply a break from school to stay inside and sorta catch their breath while relaxing in their homes.

Many of those celebrating the lockdown included students and current peers of mine as we saw the posts on our social media saying that our district had shut down.

The posts got sent around and many students responded with cheers and excitement seeing it as a break to play video games and just escape school for two weeks until the disease stopped its spread. However, as we all know now, it was most certainly not the beginning of a two week vacation.

While students slowly began to realize that this was probably going to last longer than usual, many students expressed their concern.

“It was a little frightening with the idea that it could have gone on for a really long time,” one student said.

Still, some students were oblivious to what was really going on, but upon seeing the rest of the world began to freak out.

What a real wake up call for many was, as one student states, “Seeing posts on social media about how many were dying and seeing how everyone was handling this with many people in such confusion and uncertainty was definitely scary at the time.”

At this time though, students weren’t the only ones worried.

Many staff members can attest that this was a very difficult teaching time. Many teachers even said that they were nervous to see how the year would end and how they would continue to educate students.

One teacher in particular stated, “I was scared, it was a really stressful time for everyone; I didn’t know how the school year would end and how we would continue to teach.”

But this time of panic didn’t last very long for people in schools as conversation began to grow of a new online learning tool known as “Zoom.”

Around 2 weeks after the shut down, on March 23rd, students at Mesa collected their Chromebooks and around a week later the thing many students and teachers grew to hate began.

Online school started with a very weird and sudden boom as it left teachers scrambling to create online lessons while also learning a completely new platform.

“I was left completely and utterly bamboozled trying to figure out what Zoom was and how I was supposed to keep students engaged teaching them from my home,” one teacher stated. “I feel even worse for older teachers who weren’t used to technology at all having to figure all of this out in such a short period of time.”

Not only did teachers and staff members have strong distaste for this time, but students weren’t the happiest about ending the school year in their own homes staring at a computer screen while listening to a teacher attempt to engage with them online.

One student stated, “I hated it, it was so boring and monotonous to just roll out of bed every morning just to stare at a bunch of boxes with just names and a little picture just to do it all again the next day.”

As the months went by and online school became more and more familiar, the day that students and staff were meant to return to school got pushed back further and further.

Eventually around the middle of June, the school year ended very abruptly as many students recall not really having a last day of school, instead just slowly fading away from doing Zoom everyday.

As summer went by the hopes that students and staff had that we’d be back to normal by the start of the new school year got smaller and smaller; more and more people began to accept that we’d be going back to school online again.

Eventually the day came that we would finally go back to school online on August 23rd, which was the start to a very confusing school year for many.
Although many teachers had grown to learn how to keep students engaged while they sat in their homes learning virtually, many teachers still had a strong distaste for online learning and very much preferred in person learning.

Eventually, after a while, teachers were instructed to come back to school to do online learning from their own classrooms. Some teachers enjoyed this change as it was a change of pace, while others did not.

One teacher even stated, “I remember they had us come back and I thought it was weird having to come into school even though I was still teaching online but I [sort of] liked it because it meant we were nearing the beginning of going back to normal.”

And right they were.

After many talks of students returning in person and many questions surrounding how it would work, the date was set for November 10th. Students were set to return in two separate cohorts with cohort A going on Tuesday and Wednesday and Cohort B going on Thursday and Friday. Monday stayed as an online day for everyone.

Teachers and students alike had mixed feelings about this change.
Along with this change students had the option to go into a completely online school known as the Cloud Campus, which came with mixed opinions from students who transferred to the cloud campus.

Some said it was a lot like normal online school and others really disliked the change and felt forced to either go to school or to transfer to fully online.

Teachers especially had mixed feelings about the change.

“It was really hard at first having to teach online and having kids in the classroom at the same time and having to have two different lesson plans for online and in person which would end up switching up. Depending on which cohort I was teaching at what time, one teacher said.

This change didn’t last very long as only a week or two later, the school would shut down for the day due to air quality following the California wildfires.

The cohorts would continue for months with small shutdowns here and there but eventually talk began circling about all students returning to school together.

Eventually, after a long awaited time, the day was set that students would finally be able to return to school together as long as the CDC guidelines were continued to be followed.

By the end of Spring break students were back in classrooms with yet another new schedule with Monday continuing to have students online and visiting all their class periods. The rest of the week continued to be set in the regular block schedule.

The school year ended like this and over the summer, the talking still continued as students would be finally coming back to school all in person no longer having any Zoom meetings.

Mostly everyone was glad that after all this time they'd finally be going back to school normally.

On August 23rd 2021, the very first day of school back in person began and so far the school year has been a wild ride with ups and downs in COVID cases, but with the help of at-home testing kits and CDC guidelines the school has been able to stay open all year.

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