To limit the spread of COVID-19, Oswego High School students and teachers switched over to distance learning on March 17, completing all of their classwork online instead of attending classes.
Using electronic devices at home, students complete the work that teachers assign to them while out of the building. The school will be inaccessible to both students and teachers while it is closed down.
“There are a variety of tools available for staff to engage with students; Google Classroom being one of them. Students are able to submit work, allowing staff to track who is participating and who is not,” Mr. Brian Cooney, assistant principal of Oswego High School, said.
Google Classroom is a tool that many teachers at OHS already use. Teachers can post assignments for students to participate in, such as attaching virtual worksheets that would normally be passed out in class. The students can work directly on the worksheets-usually a Google Doc-and turn it in after completion.
“Those students who do not have access to a device are able to check one out through the district,” Mr. Cooney said.
OHS is not a 1:1 school, meaning that devices like Chromebooks or tablets are not handed out at the beginning of the school year to the students. Allowing students who do not have devices at home to check out a Chromebook gives them the opportunity to participate in work that teachers send out.
“Per the Illinois State Board of Education, because this week is considered ‘Act of God’ days, nothing given can be graded. Work prior to the days off can still be turned in and addressed,” Mr. Aaron Henricks, a history teacher at OHS, said.
COVID-19 is an extremely active virus. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered a “shelter in place” that will continue though April 30. The order was originally set to end on April 7, but Pritzker extended it on March 31. School is set to open back up after April 30, but it is undetermined whether or not that date will change.
“[It is] yet to be determined [how long school will be closed],” Cooney said. “Many of these directives are sent to us by the State. The e-learning plan would need to be extended with teachers supplying students with additional resources and opportunities for learning.”
The question rises, then, about the classes that are more hands-on and lab-centric. How will they continue their work if they can’t be there physically?
“We can’t bring clay home or any tools [for my pottery class], especially the wheel, which is tough! We didn’t prepare our clay for a two week break,” Megan Krygowski, a senior at OHS, said.
Despite fine arts being a difficult class to complete work for outside of school, there are many alternatives that students can use to complete their projects. For graphic design, Adobe products are free through May 21, 2020. For physical projects it is a little more restricted as not all students have the materials to work at home like clay or oil/acrylic paints.
“The most difficult part [of online learning] is that all students do not have the programs at home that we use in class so I cannot create or continue on with actual lessons,” graphics teacher Ms. Marie Strejc said.
However, some students still struggle in classes despite their accessibility at home.
“The class I’ll have the most trouble with is Creative Writing since I ask a lot of questions while writing or I want second opinions on things,” senior David Stukas said.
Teachers have stated that they will check their email twice a day, once at the beginning and once at the end. If students have questions, the teachers said that they are welcome to send an email back.
“My world language class would be my most difficult, since we are studying for the AP and AAPPL exams! Having the motivation to study for these big exams on top of all of this busy work and live-streams is really tough,” Krygowski said.
Working from home might also bring distractions for some students. The district expects that even if students have distractions at home they still turn in their work. Some teachers are handing out two-day-long assignments to lessen the workload their students might have in their other classes. Students and teachers alike are not sure how to react properly or most efficiently because something like this has never happened before.
“I have reminded everyone to just take all of this in…we’re living through something right now that will be discussed in future U.S. History textbooks. This is unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” Henricks said.