On Friday, March 13, 2020, the last day of spring break for the local school district, the Governor, announced that all K-12 schools would be held virtually in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. During the week that followed, students were excused from school in preparation. Questions soon arose regarding the attention span and abilities of young children to navigate the virtual environment.
On Tuesday, March 24, a first grade class met through Zoom for the first time. The meeting was scheduled to begin at 10 AM, but began late since some students had difficulty logging in. The teacher would explain to the children that she had logged in for the first time the night before and they would be learning together.
The next 30 minutes were pure mayhem. The teacher did not understand how to mute students and the students did not understand how to mute themselves. One student whispered “hi” to a friend, another dropped her computer, while another student’s sibling could be heard crying in the background. It soon became apparent that the student who seemed to have dropped her computer actually threw it down and walked away as her mother could be heard asking, “What’s going on? I will come upstairs and help you. What are you scared of? Get back on your call. What are you doing? I’ll come sit next to you. This is how we do school now. Why are you scared?”
Regardless of the noise, the teacher began to run through future schoolwork. Suddenly, an unmuted student’s sibling began to scream and the background noise caused the teacher’s voice to be unheard. The teacher eventually lost her connection, and when she logged back in, she was unknowingly muted. As she began to speak, nobody could hear her.
Mercifully, the meeting shortly came to an end.
A year later, these students became adept at using Zoom. Contrary to initial concerns, Zoom school became second nature to the children. Through it all, the young students would unwittingly become shining examples of the perseverance and innate ability of humankind to learn and thrive in harsh environments.