2020-2021 school year finished

Yesterday my kids finished what I’ve dubbed the strangest school year in history. I’ve now got a kindergarten graduate and a 2nd grade graduate moving on to first and third grades next school year.

Virtual school was terrible. It really didn’t have to be, but it was. Most of the terrible came from an inability for any two teachers to standardize, and attempts to keep a set time schedule that really was useless at the point when kids were at home and could probably plow through all the busywork in a couple of minutes.

Our kids went hybrid. In person and virtual. Our school had one Covid scare that turned out to not be covid. Mask mandates in Metro Nashville meant they got pretty good at that but damn, even pretty good for a 2nd grader is terrible.

I think virtual school could have been done well. It’s not failed (for my kids,) in my opinion because of the tech – they dug quite a bit of the experience, but what nobody dug was the near constant tech support requirements. The first week of this my oldest was directed to a scam site that read her out loud how to install a plugin.

We got word documents linking to PDF documents that contained zoom links to daily announcements. We had a rotating schedule of classes that the teachers would generally direct children to in person but you just sort of hoped they knew where to go and what day you were on. All could have been solved by a calendar app that just had “click this at 9”.

We got updates via Bloomz, personal email, text, work email, kid’s email, and sometimes not at all. Seems like there were a couple of other apps involved, but they got abandoned eventually. The school software required you to hunt through multiple topics to find what your child needed to accomplish. This could take 10 minutes or more just to figure out what needed to be done daily. I spent hours trying to figure out what was needed to be worked on and half the time there was no clear “this needs to be done,” and “this can be done but is not required you write it down.”

My kids were doing meh. When they got back to class for the last couple of months that turned into mostly great. There’s a little bit of catching up to do still, but we’re within what I’d call a couple of week range of being solidly on track. They were still doing the lessons on the computer, but with a teacher to point and tell what needed to be done.

In a couple of weeks a summer-camp style MNPS program starts. It’s touted as a catch-up program, and my kiddos are going to try it out a bit. Basically the selling point is it’s they get to play with kids, they’ll do a little bit of school work that’s aimed at figuring out where anyone fell behind, but mostly it’s fun and some childcare while adults who were virtual wranglers for the last school year catch up on work.

It’s been odd. My kids both missed birthday parties, friends, opportunities. They’re bouncing back. They know it was for a virus and not anything they did. I know a couple of kiddos who were virtual this entire time that don’t get that. We’re lucky in that regard.

Paul King

Paul King lives in Nashville Tennessee with his wife, two daughters and cats. He writes for Pocketables, theITBaby, and is an IT consultant along with doing tech support for a film production company.