It is eight am. James, “Jimmy” Churchill is just getting ready for the day. He heads downstairs still groggy and grabs his notebooks, computer, and writing utensils from his kitchen counter. Most students normally go outside to the school bus. Jimmy goes up to his room to get ready for the day.
Jimmy’s family decided he would complete this school year from the safety of their home. He is a 7th grader from Middlesex, just starting his time at U-32 middle and high school. The beginning of 7th grade is usually a time of excitement and anxiety, a time of personal growth and new experiences. Jimmy’s remote learning has challenges, him and his family are working to get through it successfully.
Jimmy’s family did not deem it safe to return to school this fall. In order for their family to be comfortable Jimmy’s mother needs a little more certainty.
“I don’t want to say a vaccine,” she said, “but something that has almost 100% chance of survival, whatever that may be.” Jimmy shares her perspective.
“Most people can follow the rules,” he said, “but with school it’s that 1% who don’t that worries me.”
He gets into view of the camera for his first Zoom call of the day. He hears the teacher before he sees her, saying “good morning class.” His remote day begins.
The first class of the day is Teacher Advisory, which is a small group of kids and a teacher that he stays with throughout middle and high school. Shortly after he has what is known as a “special”, such as physical education. After he has a short Zoom call with his whole literacy class, a virtual class where all attendees are online. Later there is lunch for 30 minutes.
Jimmy and his mother both are mainly home now. He makes his lunch and either eats by himself or with his mom. After lunch he has two other classes, social studies and science, with a break in between them, and the day is over. After school he has other activities he does such as reading, archery, and biking.
Jimmy is doing a good job with all of his classes but he still has some struggles. One challenge is his band class. There are no zoom calls for the course. He is taking it completely through a new online program called Canvas.
“I don’t really understand band class right now,” he said. “I don’t have a time set for it so it does not fit in with the school’s schedule.”
The main challenge with home learning is the isolation. Jimmy is an only child and spends almost all his time with his parents. Jimmy has seen a few people through D&D, and a group of them have come over some nights and they hang around in the backyard. Other than that Jimmy has had no interactions with other people.
“I may have read the D&D books twice. Now I have read them 10 times,” he said. “It’s just nice to look forward to something.”