There are currently 10,286 public schools and over 281 universities and colleges in California. On March 13, California announced the first closure of a number of schools due to the coronavirus.It did not take long for more districts to follow, closing down their schools to put the safety of the community first. It was the following day on March 14 when California Governor Gavin Newsom, announced the immediate closure of all schools and non-essential businesses for the entirety of the state.
It took roughly two weeks after the first death C-19 related death was announced in the state for them to come to this decision. Two weeks later with schools closed and the state is now surpassing 5,000 cases and still rapidly spreading.
Students all over the state have now shifted to online school and are going through the remainder of the semester by virtual learning. For a percentage of students, taking classes online is something new but teachers across the country are guiding students as they navigate the new format.
Dr.Christopher Dudzik, chemistry professor at LPC, is now one of over 300,000 teachers in the state who have had to move their classroom online. For many of these teachers, the shift to moving online has been just as overwhelming since it is a new thing for both sides of the spectrum. Dudzik has focused on staying positive during the transition to teaching online.
“There has been lots of support from my colleagues and the administrators,” Dudzik said. “It turns out that Canvas has many features that we can take advantage of in this situation. Personally, I prefer to teach in front of a live class, but I think I can serve the students’ needs adequately with the technology we are currently using. At least for the time being.”
Although Dudzik has not been a fan of having to now teach from home, he has a number of resources that have helped this adjustment become easier not only for him but for his students as well.
“I teach dynamically, and it’s hard to do that when you are sitting in front of a computer screen,” Dudzik said. “The other worry is the labs. Of course, they are designed to be hands-on and require hands-on skill development. Creating something that can be done online that provides even a fraction of that experience will be difficult, to say the least.”
With a subject such as chemistry that is a hands-on class, one can imagine the difficulty of teaching it online. Chemistry is one of the subjects besides sports curriculum that is known for being mostly a hands on class.
Theater teachers and students are also trying to adjust to this shift to now being online.
Theater and performing arts coordinator Titian Lish has been teaching at LPC for a few years now, and for her being a theater and performance professor, teaching online is not something she is accustomed to. She spoke about her biggest difficulty and the biggest luxury of working from home.
“I miss my students,” Lish said. “I miss the vibe in the classroom and the sense of play and spontaneity that a theater classroom has. It is welcoming, and I was so grateful to spend time with my students every day.”
Lish is a professor whose teaching environment is a dynamic one. She feeds off the students’ energy as they feed off of hers. As someone who is accustomed to face to face teaching, she had a difficult time describing the “best part” of teaching from home.
“I haven’t found one yet, to be honest,” Lish said. “For me, it is really hard to not physically be in the space with my students, so I am still working on finding a new normal with this transition.”
This move to teaching and learning fully online has been a challenge for both professors and students but our professors want the students to know they are still available for help and support and the goals for the semester are still very much the same.
“Reach out to your instructors,” Dudzik said. “They are just as dedicated as they were before this situation started and they want to help you to achieve your goals. There are resources to help us all through this and your instructors know about them and really want to tell you so you can take advantage as well. You can do it.”
Lish also had a few encouraging words for students.
“Stay in contact with your teachers and peers,“ Lish said. “Remember that you are still receiving an education and that we are working really hard to adapt our entire careers to this moment, so be patient. And lastly, get out of bed, get dressed, do something productive (like “coming to class”) and trust that everything is going to be OK in the long run.”
As this epidemic grows, changes in everyday life and adjustments will continue to be made. As long as professors and students continue to support one another school life online will be one less thing to stress over in these hard times.
Ana Delgadillo is a staff writer for The Express. Follow her at @aaanakd.