Thousands of children sat blurry eyed and tired in front of a computer screen Monday morning.
It was the first day of the fall semester for roughly 39,000 students in the Sweetwater Union High School District.
It was Ethan Stroberg’s first day of his junior year at Eastlake High School in Chula Vista.
“Not expected at all when I thought of junior year a year ago,” he said. “It was interesting being online and seeing some people I’ve never met before.”
It was Natalia Blas’s first day as a freshman.
“It’s something new,” she said. “I eventually want to go back to school, but I guess for now it’s OK.”
Sweetwater adopted a distance learning plan earlier this summer with all of its students beginning the year using Google Meet or other platforms to attend class.
“I miss talking to my friends and all of that,” said a disappointed Jonathan Brogan, who attended his first day of 8th grade at Eastlake Middle School.
“It’s kind of annoying not to be able to do that with your friends and people you haven’t seen in months,” added Stroberg. “We’re trying to do things that haven’t been done before.”
The social aspect of school aside, the three students said the virtual classrooms worked OK.
“It’s weird. It’s new,” Brogan said. “Something you have to get used to.”
All three said the virtual learning appeared to work for most people, but they said it still isn’t perfect.
“You’re not there live so you can’t really learn that much,” suggested Brogan.
“Staring at the computer screen for hours at a time, that starts to strain your eyes after a while. That gets annoying,” commented Stroberg. “I’m a little worried that it might not be as quality if it were in person.”
Nevertheless, the students were hopeful the virtual classrooms will suffice until they can return to the classroom.
“No one knows what’s going to happen,” concluded Stroberg.
The SUHSD follows a year-round calendar. School was supposed to begin in mid-July. However, it was delayed as administrators and teachers worked out the logistics for distance learning.