I woke up yesterday morning with the thought that doing is overrated. I just want to be. The past two days had been insanely overwhelming with work emails, more news about the virus’ spread, deaths, dysfunctional government actions, sincere efforts to work toward our collective health, what’s being underreported, what is missing, extended shelter at home orders replete with local park closures and extended school closures.
It has been a lot to digest. And I’m not sure that I have digested it, but I am sure that doing is overrated. So, this morning, I meditated a little longer, did my exercises, walked to the store for senior hour and found two of the three items I needed. Empty or nearly empty shelves were still present in some aisles. I couldn’t find the dates I usually buy as they’d either moved them elsewhere or they were sold out. And I thought “that is good for the local farmer who grows them.”
Listening to and viewing all of the information being provided through multiple media channels has felt like opening one’s mouth at the end of a gushing water hose. There is a lot of it and sometimes it isn’t reported thoroughly enough for a person to understand what it means. I listened to network news at 11:00 pm last night and learned about the extended shelter in place. I had already received two emergency alerts on my phone from the county I live in and the adjoining one yesterday afternoon about the extension to May 3. On the news last night there was mention of school closures through the end of the school year and then something about schools gearing up for summer school. Did that mean virtual teaching was going to be abandoned until the summer? A teacher was interviewed and she didn’t mention continued online learning, just her sadness about school being closed through the end of the year, missing her students, and what that means for her two young children and her partner with their kids being out of school. There was no mention that online learning would be continued for students.
Yesterday, I read an article that addresses online learning in the wake of the extended shelter in place orders and the nature of the letter that has been sent to school districts, community college districts, state colleges and the UC’s by the state superintendent of education. The letter doesn’t state that this extended closure is mandatory, but does address safety and most if not all schools were expecting it and will abide by it as it has to do with safety, health and preventing the spread of the pandemic. Here’s a link to the article in CalMatters: https://calmatters.org/newsletter/end-of-the-school-year-state-says/
There is a lingering problem of equity of access to education that exists whether students are able to learn inside of buildings or online. Every student does not have access to technology tools or the Internet. One school district has been distributing Chromebooks to students for use at home. Cafes, libraries are closed, so students cannot access the Internet if they don’t have access at home. We have to shelter in place, so it would be ill-advised for students to visit friends’ or relatives homes in order to gain Internet access. Visiting friends or relatives can lead to virus spread, illness and possibly death on the part of the visitors and hosts.
I read an article that mentioned that some cities like Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and a few others in the state have citywide internet access for their residents. As Nick Melvoin, former classroom teacher and current member of the LAUSD Board writes in a CalMatters commentary, “Cities like Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Pasadena already provide free universal internet. Los Angeles provides pockets of free WiFi, including specific parks, Los Angeles International Airport, parts of downtown L.A., Staples Center and Dodger Stadium, and the Convention Center.” That’s good to know, and still many students and families in Southern California and across the state have no Internet access.The digital divide still exists and is now more visible to all. It will be interesting to see what is done with the innovation present in this state to close the divide. Will the talent, skill and money be used to support the collective?
Today, I read an article that stated Google is providing Hot Spots to enable students to access the Internet with the Chromebooks given out by their schools. And as I took my mandatory walk after a much needed chiropractic appointment, I passed an Oakland elementary school with people and tables set up out front and a drive through lane for Chromebook distribution. This was in the Temescal District. Signs were posted on the school’s fence about the Chromebooks and class work packets being given out. Chalk on the ground measured 6 foot intervals for those who might arrive on foot and stand in line. As I walked by, there were no folks on foot, only cars and SUVs slowly turning into the parking lot in front of the school to wait in line for technology and paper learning tools.