LIVING UNDER THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS
This is the second of a series of columns from The Accolade staff about their various experiences during the school closure because of the coronavirus pandemic. If you would like to submit some of your experiences, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It felt like the first day of school all over again.
I couldn’t go to sleep the night before; I was too busy thinking about attending school the next day.
I even woke up earlier than usual at 7 a.m.
But the only difference between March 18, 2020, and my actual first day of school last August was that I hadn’t finished my math homework, and I forgot to do my Advanced Placement [AP] U.S. History homework the night before. Definitely a true first day of school.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, remote learning for Sunny Hills started Wednesday, March 18, and it couldn’t have gone better.
After making myself a bagel, I anxiously tested my video camera, opening Zoom and waiting for it to load … until it didn’t load, and I correctly inferred that my Fullerton Joint Union High School District-managed chromebook blocked Zoom. At least Google Classroom worked.
A restart later, Classroom was blocked, and Zoom worked.
The third time’s the charm, right? After restarting yet again, everything worked fine, and I opened up Gmail to find a message from my principal apologizing for the connection issues.
The Accolade caught up with him the next day, and he clarified that the changed chromebook permissions would set in after 24 hours, which was why I had problems with Zoom and Classroom.
The next email, from one of our counselors, Beth Thomson, was an inspirational quote about peace independent of my circumstances by Eckhart Tolle that gave me second period morning announcement vibes.
My other emails were notifications from Google Classroom telling me what my teachers had posted for the day. After I opened all of them at once, I kept a tab open for the bell schedule, which made me even more stressed for the coming school day.
For my first period Algebra 2 Honors class, I responsibly copied my notes for half an hour, then tuned in to the Zoom session, which went smoothly (besides the fact I had to catch up a little since I didn’t finish my homework).
My math teacher leads us in stress-relieving breathing exercises when we’re in session as a classroom, so when one of my classmates suggested that we have a mindful moment, she went with it and led us online as in the past. I don’t know if any of my peers followed her instructions in closing our eyes and breathing to her counts, but it lowered my stress levels.
In my second period Chinese 3 class, attending the Google Meet wasn’t mandatory, so I tried to finish my math homework (sorry Mrs. Bueno) since I accidentally did the Chinese assignment the night before.
When I finished math, I went to the Meeting (virtually, of course) and just talked to my teacher and some classmates face to face, since so few of us joined the Google Meet.
A few impromptu house tours and pet shows later, I tuned in to another Google Meet for my AP English Language class. After my chill Chinese class, I left my camera on so my classmates could see my face and my surroundings. Although I was about to turn it off, some also left their cameras on, which encouraged me to keep mine on as well.
(Compared to Zoom, Google Meet doesn’t have the room to show everyone if too many people have their cameras on.)
As our teacher explained the assignment, her dog kept barking in the background; in the chat, someone suggested a face reveal for her dog, which she gave (her dog is very large and very majestic). When she finished, we waved goodbye and started on our quest to conquer a synthesis essay (waving goodbye on video calls always makes me feel like a vlogger).
At first, the College Board secure test on my chromebook wasn’t working, so I called a friend to make sure I wasn’t the only one — I was the only one — then retried (success!) and took out a sheet of paper and a pen (is that cheating?) to get my thoughts together.
Although I was in a more comfortable environment at my desk in my house, I missed my sunny, yellow desk in Room 32, where I would be slightly peer pressured to work faster on my essay.
Instead, my siblings were in the room with me, working on their own distance learning assignments, and I continued writing my essay through my break period rather than finishing during third period.
For my fourth period, I was so ready. My teacher held class the two days before, so I knew how he would hold the lesson and what websites I would use. It’s Google Meet, what I’ve used for most of my other classes, so how hard would it be?
I entered the Meet with my homework Google Doc open (never mind that I forgot about doing it the night before) and my classwork packet ready (I did do that one, don’t worry, Mr. Wilde), but then my wifi connection decided to die right when my teacher started talking about why Al Capone is the gangster you have to know.
Scared I was missing out on answers and important information, I asked my classmates using the Google Meet’s chat feature if anyone else heard my teacher’s voice breaking up to make sure I wasn’t the only one — I was the only one.
While I developed a new kind of FOMO [fear of missing out], I called another friend for the answers they were going over and ditched my chromebook (sorry, chromebook) for my dad’s Sunny Hills-issued laptop. At least my teacher knew I was trying because I filled out the Google Form for attendance.
When I reconnected to the Meet using my other device, I forgot to turn off the camera. I thought about keeping it on, but peer pressure got a hold of me even though I wasn’t at school. The next day, I dared myself to keep it on the whole time, and I did it! Maybe we can make Fridays Face-Reveal-Friday.
But back to Wednesday.
After I finished a reflection assignment for my Advanced Journalism class, my mom invited me to eat lunch, so I ate during my fifth period (like I normally do — the perks of being on The Accolade staff) and made a Google Meet for me to say hi to my friends during my lunch period.
All of us on the call bonded over the weirdness of the day and even had a few technological difficulties ourselves. Although it felt like we had all the time in the world being at home and talking like normal, we still had to keep track of when sixth period began.
I realized then that I was on some type of electronic device the entire day, just like people say our generation already does.
At least I had some social interaction. Well, with my siblings.
For my Honors Chemistry class, I invited my two younger brothers to watch two chemistry teachers and one chemistry student teacher light snacks on fire. The lab was so lit (excuse me, I had to) that we watched it on repeat until I noticed an assignment linked to the lab that I needed to fill out.
Without remote learning, I couldn’t have seen a Funyun glow white-hot four times, but with this brave new world of education, I would have finished that worksheet a whole lot faster.