Distant Learning: Students Struggle, Adjust to New Adapted Routine

Using Zoom, Mrs. Carter’s yearbook class tunes into their first online meeting
Students tune into CCHS English teacher Claire Carter’s yearbook class for their first online meeting using Zoom.

Local students tune into CCHS Yearbook Class with English Teacher Claire Carter Monday for their first online meeting using Zoom.

 

In early April, CCHS senior Kimberly Quintana received a UPS package on her doorstep. Knowing what must be in the box, she rushed to the door and ripped it open. Inside was a  floor-length white dress with overlaid red roses. Quintana called out in excitement for her sister to help zip up the back, before remembering that prom has been canceled for her senior class in the wake of the Campbell County School Board’s decision to shut the doors on the remainder of the physical school year.

CCHS senior Kimberly Quintana stands distraught in her prom dress that due to 2020
CCHS senior Kimberly Quintana models the prom dress she will not be wearing to prom due to COVID-19.

On Monday, the CCSD officially began its adapted learning program, where students learn online from home. Following the Governor’s orders to keep Wyoming schools closed until April 30, the district’s teachers and administrative staff have worked diligently to provide students with virtual classroom options and resources. Even the district’s bus drivers have been chipping in this week, hand-delivering technology to the kids and families that need it.

More than 80% of Campbell County High School’s students logged into their first online classroom Monday morning to varied reviews, according to CCHS Principal Chad Bourgeois.

The district’s 24 schools are using various apps and websites to notify students and parents or guardians of the latest assignments. At the junior high and high schools, teachers post classwork to Google Classroom and use Zoom to interact with students face-to-face. Meanwhile, elementary schools have turned to Seesaw and Epic to communicate with parents, task and share lesson plans and assignments.

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Perla Ocon, the mother of a second grader at Wagon Wheel Elementary, said it’s been hard to explain the school closures to her daughter, who doesn’t really understand what’s happening and why she can’t go back to school.

“She knows that we can’t leave home, and that mommy can only go to work or the store because of a virus,” Ocon said. “She’s doing okay, but she misses school and her friends just like everyone else.”

Although the schools have made their best effort to simulate a normal classroom experience from home, some students like Thunder Basin High School senior Rosario Vasquez can’t help but worry.

“My grades weren’t where I wanted them to be before we left for spring break,” she explained. “I’ve been really stressed about turning in late work, but luckily, my teachers have been fairly available and super understanding.”

Under the new learning model, students and teachers communicate via e-mail or over the Zoom app.

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While certain students feel pressure to complete as much work as possible, others question the attendance system that is currently in place.

Coming off the coattails of spring break, a majority of Campbell County’s teenagers may have gotten used to staying up late and sleeping in, said CCHS senior Kayla Drevlow. Now, those same students are struggling to readjust their new hours alongside this new approach to the curricula.

Drevlow admitted that by the time she wakes up and prepares herself for the day, most of her teachers have already put in a full day of work and are ready to log off. This makes teachers unavailable to students who, like Drevlow, are struggling to build a normal routine during the pandemic.

As academic tensions rise, Bourgeois said that he has worked hard to navigate this new schooling system, acknowledging the challenges that are being faced across the district and commending the teachers and students alike for their combined efforts to keep education alive and well during this trying time.

Bourgeois spoke to County 17 from an empty office in the formerly crowded 300,000-square-foot Camel’s building now occupied by a mere four staff members including himself. This emptiness speaks to the overlying metaphor and challenge of students learning from home instead of in face-to-face classroom settings.

“The most useful resource in a school is its people,” Bourgeois said. “You need to have teachers to answer questions and students to bounce ideas off of. Without those, school just isn’t the same.”