Commentary: The Realities of Distance Learning

#AFROCoronavirusUpdate

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By Anna Robinson
Special to the AFRO

On Tuesday, March 10 I had a senior meeting at the top of the Arts block- the artistic courses in the afternoon at my high school, Duke Ellington School of the Arts. My internship starts at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I went directly to the D2 bus stop towards Dupont Circle. 

Within an hour of the meeting, one of my classmates gave me a summary of what was discussed. The staff announced the finalized prom location and date- Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill on May 30. They also announced the expected attire for the senior group picture for the following Tuesday. 

Then it happened.

Student Anna Robinson, who shared her new realities as a senior coping with distance learning due to COVID-19, does schoolwork while at home. (Courtesy Photo)

My hair appointment on Saturday felt useless after finding out about distance learning.

My school emailed me to pick up instructions on how to receive the distance learning assignments. Two of my friends and I met up at our neighborhood train station (Stadium Armory) at 12:45 p.m. The delays on WMATA almost made us too late to receive our work (from Southeast all the way to Northwest in Georgetown).  Administrators greeted us across the parking lot. A hand with a rubber glove extended my assigned folder across a piece of tape on the sidewalk. 

I felt uncomfortable traveling back home from Foggy Bottom station since I lost my Kids Ride Free card. At my school, we fill out a google link to request another SmarTrip. Since I am out of school I don’t expect to leave until we return to school (April 27).

Before my graduation on June 20, I wanted to participate in programs that will make me a well rounded college student. Starting in January, I had an internship learning the fundamentals of dark room photography. On Feb. 29, I participated in my first workshop with NPR.  In my last week of school, I was working on my treatment for short film for my department’s showcase on April 1. Now that we are encouraged to practice social distancing, I may not be able to display my work for the last time.

Two of my senior classmates worked together to address the concerns about online learning to Chancellor Lewis Ferbee and the Board of DCPS. According to the document, “77 percent of DCPS students’ households fall below the poverty line.”  They argued that students from low income families may not have the resources to support online schooling. This can also be a burden to families while some are facing unemployment. 

I also think that online classes are not an efficient way of learning for everyone. Since students are not required to attend school, we are fully responsible for completing weeks’ worth of assignments. Without a teacher, some students may feel overwhelmed by the pacing of the classes or the inability to focus in a distracting environment. Inside a classroom setting, my classmates and I work together on most assignments. From creating a skit to reading aloud, being in a studious setting influences me to finish my homework. Now that I am learning from home, I am adjusting to spending the majority of my time at home, while creating a schedule and environment that will suit me until graduation.

Anna Robinson is a senior Literary Media and Communications major at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Northwest, Washington, D.C.

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