It’s the big day before the first day of school for the Palm Springs Unified School District. Six-year-old twins Allison and Ximena Mendez and their mom Martha are in the multipurpose room picking up their supplies for the 2020/21 school year at Cathedral City Elementary School. Class will be all online this year.
“I’m excited,” say the twins in unison and when asked why they say it’s because they’re going to be in first grade and they like first grade.
But when asked what it will be like to go to school online, Ximena stays quiet and Allison responds with a simple, “I don’t know.”
Truth from the six-year-old.
Many of us don’t know what an entire school year of full time online learning will be like for children and parents.
Their mom Martha has a big job this school year. Parents essentially are being asked to co teach. She’s got the twins plus two other children.
Martha says sitting still for long periods of time being focused may prove difficult for the twins, the youngest of her children.
Still she says she’s up for the challenge, “I’m looking forward to it like a big challenge I think for myself, and I mean for a lot of parents as well but we’ll see how it works.”
Across the campus is second grade teacher Georgina Mendoza’s classroom. She knows how it will work. She’s been putting it together for weeks. The online platform is interactive and colorful. She says the tools may be different but it’s still all about learning.
“We’re going to find new ways of doing the things that we used to but I hope that we still provide the same education or even better,” she says.
Still those first day jitters are different this year.
“There’s that expectation or fear or nervous at the beginning of the school year, this is the most I‘ve had,” says Mendoza.
She admits it will take some adjusting to an empty classroom and the new platforms but says young children adjust easily to change.
Principal Jessica Whiteman says she, her staff and the school district are doing everything they can to make sure every parent and student feel supported and have everything they need to be successful, “We all can relate and understand how difficult this can be but we’re here to support each other.”