HARLINGEN — Not your typical day.
With COVID-19 now in control of everything, there are no more typical days for parents, children, teachers, and certainly not for Camryn Hale, a junior at Harlingen High School.
“I wake up when my first Zoom session starts, usually around 8:30 in the morning,” said Camryn, 17, one of more than 18,000 Harlingen students now attending School@Home.
Zoom is a remote conferencing program many are using to conduct their business online.
“We are required to do a check-in at least once a week,” she said. “Other than that, as long as we turn in our assignments they are assured they are getting educated.”
In the first few days of the coronavirus crisis, the district developed School@Home for students to continue their studies from the safety of their homes. Students without Internet access at home can pick up instructional materials at their respective schools. Those with iPads, tablets and cell phones can do online learning using Zoom remote conference to communicate with teachers in a “virtual classroom.”
Camryn’s mother Diana Hale couldn’t be more delighted.
“Every one of her teachers have reached out to her remotely,” said Hale, who is also an instructional coach at Coakley Middle School.
One of those teachers is Maria Coronado, band director at HHS. Camryn is able to keep up with her baritone and trombone playing because Coronado has found a way to continue teaching by remote.
“I use a band app,” Coronado said. “What we do is, instead of teaching a large group, we teach in smaller groups. Then we teach individually so it’s a little bit more concentrated, more focused. We are still teaching the class as if they’re preparing for UIL.”
The system hasn’t been without its problems, however.
“One of the problems we have seen is teachers were scheduling Zoom meetings over each other,” Hale said. “My daughter would miss her pre-calculus class because she was already in English class Zoom.”
This conflict was quickly resolved, with Zoom schedules carefully planned so they don’t conflict with each other; each class has what she called “protected Zoom time.”
Camryn has been taking it all in stride.
“As long as you get your assignments it’s no big deal,” she said.
And what’s a “typical” day?
“Most teachers have notes or videos explaining our assignments online,” Camryn said. “We go through the assignments and if we have questions on the assignments, the teachers try to help us.”
While the novel system has presented everyone with significant challenges, Camryn has found some advantages, too.
“I like the fact that I can self pace,” she said.