Students, parents, and teachers were put to the test throughout the transition to a virtual education.
Summer break is rolling after COVID-19 pandemic put students, parents and teachers to the test. Teachers were challenged to think outside of the box while parents were forced to take on a larger role in their children’s education. Both parents and teachers showed some level of concern with their students, but also said they are eager for them to get back to in person instruction.
Jessica Grunden lives in Hillsdale and is a mom of five children whose ages range from 9 to 20, including a daughter with autism.
“When it first started, I put together a schedule and was extremely gung-ho on doing schoolwork, but as time went on it became harder for me just because all of the kids are on different learning levels,” Grunden said.
She recalls her 17-year-old daughter, Julia, having six Zoom meeting classes in one day.
“To be honest it felt a little excessive at times,” said Grunden.
Grunden said she felt like the shutdown was justified and “if people started getting really sick again, I would be okay with them being home, just because I’m more concerned about their safety.” “I’ll be honest though I would not be looking forward to the schooling,” she said.
While Grunden’s daughter, Allie, who was diagnosed with autism did receive services, including Zoom meetings and ADA therapy two hours a day, Monday through Friday, the virtual transition wasn’t a realistic scenario for every student.
Melissa Trott, an early childhood special education inclusion teacher who travels from class to class, teaches 3-to-5-year-olds in Hillsdale County and said the challenges she faced as a teacher attempting to adapt during the shutdown.
Trott said throughout the pandemic she provided her students with services via YouTube videos,
Zoom, Facebook, over the phone, and even printed off and delivered material to her families, however she said she doesn’t believe this was effective.
“I did receive a lot of messages … texts from parents, even having conversations with them saying I can’t get my child to do the work or they won’t sit still and watch the videos,” said Trott.
Due to the age group she said she felt a lot of the work at home was busy work, not actually being done by her students.
“Really, I would just say compliance was a huge concern,” said Trott. “I don’t think the children were doing any of the work.”
Though she has not been given any direct correspondence about new safety guidelines when schools reopen at the end of the summer, Trott said she believes guidelines will be geared more toward general cleanliness, including increased hand washing and more stringent regulations with toys.
“At the age of 3 to 5 we can’t control if they are putting their fingers in their mouth, but we can control how many kids touch toys,” said Trott.
Michelle Ferro, a resident of Lansing and parent to an autistic daughter said that she believes online schooling has worked against her daughters’ best interests.
Before everything went online, she said her daughter had friends and was gaining from the social aspect at school, but after the shutdown Ferro said that she quickly became her daughter’s only source of socialization.
“I was really happy with one on one,” said Ferro. “She was working well with her classmates and she was saying hello to people and she was being responsive when someone said something to her.”
Because of her daughters’ special needs and new routine of being home all the time, Ferro said she believes it will take a while for her daughter to adjust to the school routine again.
“The online schooling was never a good idea for her,” said Ferro.