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No right answer: School year ending with distance learning

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — It does not matter whether you are one of the whiz kids excelling in Advanced Calculus, or a C-average student struggling in Algebra 1. Every student is faced with a new equation where the answer is unclear: How do I continue learning, while distance learning?

Teachers across the Bay Area are trying to answer that equation utilizing distance learning interfaces to stay connected with their students.

In Marin, Redwood High School math teacher Heather Curtaz is a math teacher for 150 students. The school is located in an affluent community that takes being accepted into a high-ranking college seriously. But even at a school like Redwood High, some students have dropped off the map ever since the traditional school setting ceased.

Redwood High teachers miss having their students in a traditional classroom with daily in-person interactions. And when the school year was drastically modified for the COVID-19 public health crisis, some students checked out.

Living quarters have become learning spaces that are very different from house to house. Some students have their own bedrooms to study in. Some spacious houses are big enough to set up a make-shift classroom. For kids living in cramped apartments where mom and dad are also both trying to work from home, there is no quiet space to study in.

“I am not entering zeros for anything because I don’t want to punish kids or hurt kids who are unable to connect, where they don’t have a stable schedule to get work done,” Curtaz said.

Curtaz said, “I feel bad for the kids. That stability, and that schedule, which all kids
need, is gone. I miss them all. I’m really grateful to work in the school district that I work in, because they have allowed us to figure out what works best for kids and then figure out a schedule to meet those needs.”

Maintaining a distance learning schedule is no small task.

“I ended up working from 8 (am) until 8 last night. I wake up, make sure my kids are up for school because I have three high school girls also. Then I upload videos for my lessons to YouTube. That has been painful because I am very much a person who likes to interact with their students,” Curtaz said.

To record her cellphone videos, Curtaz needed a phone stand. Luckily, she still had some Legos around the house.

“I built a Lego phone stand to put my phone on. Once I get my videos uploaded on YouTube, I have to upload my assignments into Google Classroom so kids can access their assignments. Then I respond to emails, whether that be kids turning in homework assignments, or quizzes , and give them feedback,” she said.

Curtaz does her best to keep all students connected.

She said, “I reach out to the kids who i have not heard from. ‘Hey I haven’t heard from you in three weeks. How are you doing, what can I help you with?'”

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