First Day of Distance Learning in Fairfax County

After four weeks of schools being closed in our county, children are now starting their first day of distance learning. First, the sites seem working. Both of my children have been able to check their emails and login to sites their teachers have provided. In middle school, there is no synchronous learning yet, but my son saw at least a score of emails from his teachers. His teachers are also available during virtual office hours this week. In elementary school, my daughter is about to participate in a synchronous session on Blackboard with her teachers. The children are both excited and anxious. This is certainly a new chapter in their education.

I guessed I spoke too soon. Minutes before 9:00, the Blackboard site of the Fairfax County Public Schools was down. Anyway, the fifth thing that my son Alex wrote as something he was thankful for during these difficult times is "having a sister to give him company".

Communication is the most important element in distance learning. It is the most important thing in any form of education. That is why the first priority is to ensure that the platform is stable and accessible. It is unfortunate that at these times we focus on the unimportant aspects like grades. Grades are not necessary for learning. Parents should focus more on what truly matters so that the school administration can spend more time and attention on seeing that the process works first.

Yes, there are gaps that will be created in this new situation. And we should be alarmed. But wait. There has been huge achievement gaps even when schools are open. Hopefully, when schools reopen, we become more mindful of these gaps and start doing something about it, with the same attention and energy we are exerting now.