Our Education in Our Hands

Breanna Rampersaud

E-learning is using electronics to access educational curriculum online, while being outside the traditional classroom. Students across the world are being forced into e-learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Steven Gavrielatos, a UACHS English II teacher, is one of the many teachers affected by distance learning.
“I was fairly confident because all schools had a contingency plan in place for such an event; teachers are equipped with the necessary tools, strategies, and information in order to teach from home,” said Gavrielatos.
Since everyone was rushed into self-isolation, teachers scrambled to make sure students had access to the internet at home and knew how to complete their given assignments online. To ensure that the distance learning experience was even more seamless, UACHS administration also supplied students with free tablets for those in urgent need of one.
“The transition to e-learning for me has been smooth and painless. My initial struggles included ensuring that all students complete the assignments,” said Gavrielatos. “Additionally, there are many students who benefit from in-person instruction.”
During this tragic time, students are trying to stay safe with their families and get their work done on time. Governor Phil Murphy announced that schools will not be in session for the remainder of the school year. Teachers and staff are doing all that they can to guarantee we are understanding the material and are determined to finish the rest of the fourth quarter strong. When there is so much going on, it’s hard for both students and teachers to focus on their schoolwork. Trying to teach a lesson with just a brief description of the topic is difficult, many teachers are struggling by not having that face-to-face communication with their students.
Jesse Thatcher, mathematics teacher, is affected by the concept of e-learning.
“With face to face contact, I can see who is having a problem or a question in their faces… without seeing students in person I’m kind of in the dark,” said Thatcher. “I have to make sure my lessons move slowly and logically from step to step anticipating every problem that can come up.”
While COVID-19 continues to rapidly spread, students have to accept that e-learning is here to stay. At least for the time being. All students should have gotten used to remote learning by now, and should be submitting their assignments to finish the fourth quarter.
“The students have no choice but to read the notes and watch the videos themselves. Self teaching is a powerful tool,” said Thatcher. “Forcing yourself to follow an explanation of a problem will make that material stick more.”
While all students are struggling with being away from school, the students with learning disabilities are facing an even harder time not having that hands-on learning with their teachers. Switching to online learning is a challenge on its own, but without the extra help these students need, it can be damaging to their learning experience.
On April 1, The Board of Education instructed that special education rules must be added to the online learning and other needs these students require.
New Jersey’s assistant commissioner of education for student services, Peggy McDonald wrote, “These rule modifications enhance the ability of school districts and educational agencies…to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities during a period of extended school closures resulting from COVID-19.”
Not being in school is a huge problem already, now all standardized tests are being pushed back until further notice. On March 25, Governor Phil Murphy issued the cancelation of all standardized testing due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Department of Education announced, “While many students in the Class of 2020 have already nailed down the necessary test scores… it plans to schedule optional dates sometime this summer or next school year.”
Due to the spread of the virus escalating, the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year is officially cancelled. Until then, all students are to continue with the process of e-learning, and focus on positivity in this drastic time.

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