Distanced Learning Continues on Campus
November 1, 2020
You are sitting at your desk, staring down at your screen, trying to keep up with the lesson on Zoom. The loud noises coming from the kitchen and the room next door invade your mind and the material on the screen in front of you starts to feel mixed up. The only place available for you to do your work next is the backyard, but out there your Internet connection is terrible and you don’t have a charger outlet. So, where do you go?
On average, 10 students are attending Zoom classes from separate classrooms on campus. In addition, others come to school regularly for tutoring in various subjects.
With the start of quarantine in March, classes switched to remote learning, mainly using Zoom for meetings. According to Vice Principal Helen Kim, some parents and students communicated that it was challenging to do remote learning at home. In addition, after sending out a questionnaire at the start of this school year, students and parents asked if it would be possible to do remote classes on campus. Now, Eastside tries to accommodate those who ask to work at school.
The students who come to campus are using six rooms with one or two students per room, depending on the day. Since they are far from each other, most students don’t need to use headphones but they can if the sounds coming from their laptops are too loud. Students can also work on tables outside for some fresh air.
To keep students and staff safe, students must wash their hands, and Office Manager Janelle Fine takes their temperatures when they arrive. They also have to fill out a paper and sign it, answering questions about their health, such as whether they have any symptoms. In the classrooms, students must wear masks unless they are alone in the room. Finally, classroom doors remain open to encourage airflow.
Junior Ricardo Enriquez Mancia started going to campus because of trouble with the Internet connection at home. Not only has studying on campus allowed him to focus better and complete more work, it also removes him from the at-home pressure of being a role model to his younger siblings.
“Here I can work by myself with nobody over my shoulder reminding me I need to be a role model, ” he said.
Sophomore Dianna Macias’ experience has been a bit different. Since the summer, she has come to campus for classes, hoping it would be easier to focus and work than it was at home. Although she is now in a classroom environment, she still feels demotivated because of online learning.
“Even though I’m in a classroom setting, it doesn’t change the fact that everything is online,” she said.
Dianna looks forward to seeing everyone together like before, when classes were held on campus because that helps motivate her to keep going. For now, however, she is finding motivation with another student who shares classroom space with her. They hold each other accountable to do their work and she has noticed that this helps her. Helen and Janelle check up on students every once in a while to help them stay on track.
Eastside serves lunch to on-campus students, sometimes from leftovers of the food handed out to families each evening for dinner and or other times food prepared specifically for them. If students do not want to eat the food provided to them, they may leave campus to buy lunch. According to Ricardo, lunch on campus doesn’t feel too different from before.
“Lunch is all normal,” he said. “We’re just wearing masks and are six feet apart.”
The dorms are also open for students who need extra support or are living far from the school. Students were asked to self-quarantine in their rooms and halls for two weeks once they arrived. Unlike the students who are on campus doing online classes, dorm students stay in their dorm rooms to do tasks and are also allowed to work in lounges and hallways. For breaks, students can go to the gym, go for walks, or just go outside for a break. Instead of having Helen and Janelle as supervisors, Residential Faculty are in charge each week.
During the weekdays, cafeteria staff prepares lunches and dinners for dorm students, as well as kitchenettes in each hall with snacks. On the weekends, RFs cook meals or bring in meals for students.
Overall, students have learned to build a sense of community despite the restrictions placed by distance learning. Whether it be creating a bond with the person working on the other side of a room, or chatting with someone during lunch outside, students manage to communicate and socialize. Who knows, maybe this small group of students will have formed a powerful bond together during this time that can carry forward when in-person learning starts again.