Failings of Online School in the Covid-19 Era

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Failings of Online School in the Covid-19 Era

As the coronavirus continues its impact across the globe, the world has settled into a perceived ‘new normal.’ In the education world, students and teachers alike are adjusting to the everyday trials and tribulations of Zoom and the online schooling format. However, even as we accept this change as our current best option, we must address the failings of this new system, and those who are being left behind.

Regardless of digital literacy, no educators were prepared for the sudden digital reformatting of the school system. Even the most technologically adept were not equipped for such a change, because the system as a whole did not provide them with the tools and training necessary to make the transition. Despite working in an entirely foreign capacity, educators are doing their best to adapt. Unfortunately, many educators never developed digital proficiency because it was simply not relevant. These educators and their respective students are disadvantaged by this system.

What’s more, online schooling is inherently inequitable to those who do not have reliable access to computers or the internet. Many students live in households with limited access to devices. Even among families that have multiple devices, it is unrealistic for students to uphold a full class schedule when parents fulfilling jobs from home and siblings with full schedules of their own are all competing over available screens. Here in the PSD, middle and high schoolers are issued personal Chromebooks in order to counteract this issue. However, even with Chromebooks, students who do not have access to an internet connection cannot submit work, access online materials, or attend Zoom calls. These students are unaccounted for by the online system.

Finally, online schooling presents specific issues at the collegiate level. With students evacuating campus to continue their schooling online, many have returned to their houses to quarantine with their families. Most students have had their room and board deposits refunded. However, many universities are offering zero refunds, future room and board credit only, or partial refunds. Several universities are calculating refunds from start dates much later than the actual evacuation. Further, students in off-campus housing with independent landlords are being forced to continue paying rent on their deserted apartments. Current trends and specialists indicate that tuition refunds are unlikely as well.

While this is a difficult time for everyone, we must be mindful of those who are failed by this system the most. Educators going above and beyond to accommodate their students deserve patience and gratitude. Families without reliable access to computers or the internet deserve equity. Financially burdened college students deserve reimbursement. Online schooling may be the best solution we have, but significant change needs to be made if it is to be sustainable.