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Baltimore Students and Their Response to COVID-19–Dyelle Washington, Renaissance Academy

In early May, the Fund asked a group of City Schools students to share their experience of remote learning during this time of school closures due to the COVID-19 crisis. Their responses were drafted in mid-May, prior to the mass demonstrations across the country. In our fourth blog post of this series, Dyelle Washington, a student at Renaissance Academy, describes the difficulties of distance learning and shares how her school leaders have helped maintain community during quarantine: 

School closure has been a little difficult because it has been harder to get the best support for schoolwork. The pandemic has made school feel like college. It’s been nice having the ability to call my teachers on the spot, get feedback more consistently, and not wake up early in the morning. I like that there are opportunities for me to see my teachers and talk to some of the students who attend class. But, somedays, I feel like I am on my own – even though I know I can call my teachers. The hard part is getting my brain to work and think online. Going from textbooks and having other students help you think about what the teacher is asking to online learning where the work assignment is very different. With online work, you had to get help from someone in your house who has been out of school for years and doesn’t have a clue as to what you are asking. I would always question myself – Is this what it means? Is this what my teacher wants? Did I do it right with the online work? I was used to working in a group where we would solve the problem or complete the task together then discuss. I need to be able to sometimes sit side-by-side with a teacher to fully understand. Online I become frustrated, and I just stop. At school, if this happened, my principal would talk me through it and take me back to the class. At home, I just turn the computer off.

The staff at my school tried to prepare us for this and talked about what college life would be like and that sometimes there would be online classes or assignments.  But taking classes online is really hard, and we needed more time to learn the computer, the different apps, and more time to mentally prepare to do this. Not having a real schedule and not working with my classmates was hard, I really missed everyone. Baltimore City and our parents have to train us better to be self-disciplined and to learn how to stay focused. I can say I received a lot of texts and phone calls during the school day. Somedays I would just pull the covers over my head when the calls started coming in.  My teachers really made sure we were working – if not you got a call or text.   Ms. Woodhouse even continued our afterschool program. Those who attended received a prize—I got a large pizza delivered to my house.  That was fun and felt like we were back in school.  Overall, I think my teachers are doing the best they can with the current situation, so I am grateful.

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