NBC 7 reporter Rory Devine is a former teacher and has decades of experience reporting on education in San Diego. Over the last year, she's taken a close look at how students, educators and lawmakers have reacted to the pandemic.
So much debate, conflict and anger -- understandable, given the issue is the education of our children. It's been roughly a year since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and since then, children have had to learn from home via Zoom and screens. Regardless of what side of the debate a person is on, everyone has one thing in common -- loss.
My understanding of the true impact on academics began early in my reporting on schools in this pandemic. Students at San Dieguito Union High School District and their parents rallied outside the district, the students telling me about how hard they worked in school, to take advanced placement classes, to do well so they could get into the college of their choice. The credit/no credit policy could impact their grade point averages. It was not fair. I understood.
That had to be balanced with students who also worked hard in school, but had to be home taking care of siblings or maybe even grieving the loss of a family member to COVID. They did not need the stress of having to get grades. What's more important here?
Both are important.
I was at a rally outside a school in El Cajon. I remember a senior saying he just wants to put on his football jersey one more time before he graduates and his season is over.
I remember a rally outside the San Diego Unfied School District where a dad told me his beautiful little girl was depressed from being on Zoom all day. He wanted schools to reopen.
On the other side, there was a little boy in the south county who did not want to go back to school because he was afraid he would get COVID-19, just as his mom and his brothers did.
The physical and emotional impact of the virus -- both are real.
I interviewed many teachers over the year, including Joanne, who had set up a beautiful classroom in the garage outside her home. The set-up was truly quite lovely.
Joanne put every effort into her Zoom classes, working hard to get up to speed with technology, though she said she did shed a few tears and wished she could call the IT person from the district to help her when her home internet went down.
The fact is the teachers with whom I spoke are doing an amazing job under tremendous odds. Teachers got into teaching to connect with children. Connecting in person, that is. They suffer loss, too.
Parents have a right to be concerned about learning loss or their children falling behind when they move to the next grade. I understand. I was a worried parent, too, when my son was younger. But those students with worried parents would catch up because their parents were there to worry and support them with all they needed.
On the other hand, I remember the teacher whom I met while she was cleaning out her classroom in March, preparing for distance learning. She was worried about her students, many of whom were homeless. School was their home, their constant. She worried about where they were going to spend the night.
Catching up. Some will have a hard time catching up – if ever.