Note to Readers:  In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Irvine Community News & Views is launching a series of SchoolWatch articles to update our readers on the “new normal” taking place at our local schools.Irvine students will not be returning to traditional classrooms for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.  Instead, all classes have moved online.

This series will explore how the transition to an e-learning environment is impacting teachers, parents, and students.  Contributors for this new set of SchoolWatch articles will include retired Irvine teachers Carolyn Inmon and Jean Anne Turner, along with Irvine pediatrician and UCI School of Medicine Professor Emeritus, Dr. Phyllis Agran.

Our first article in the series (below) was written by Carolyn Inmon.


SchoolWatch: Students, Teachers, and Parents Adjust to Online Classes

Public schools have always been among the most stable, predictable, popular, and honored institutions in our country.

Photo: Century-old image from last global pandemic (University of California Online Archive)

It has been just over 100 years since schools across the United States had to shut down in an effort to stop a deadly virus from spreading.  In 1918, schools were closed during a global influenza pandemic.  The decision to close our nation’s schools during the 1918-1919 pandemic saved tens of thousands of lives.  Now, we have had to take that same aggressive approach with the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).

Virtually all schools in the country are currently closed.  Although it was obviously the right thing to do, we must recognize that the decision to move to online classrooms has caused a huge disruption in the lives of students, parents, teachers, and school staff.

School buildings remain intact, but classrooms are suddenly empty.  With little notice, many children have become isolated at home, doing schoolwork in distracted circumstances, and missing their friends.  As a retired teacher, I can tell you that socialization is critical to a child’s development, especially in elementary school.  Parents will need to look for ways to create virtual play dates and online interactions so that our children remain connected to their school friends.  It is important to remember that learning is only one aspect of what schools provide in a child’s life.

This period of physical distancing has also been difficult on teachers who are personally invested in the well-being and education of their students.  Not only have teachers suddenly had to rewrite lesson plans for online delivery, they have also been forced to quickly learn how to teach and connect with students remotely.  That’s a difficult task!

Parents have also been thrown into a completely new routine, with additional demands suddenly heaped on them.  Many parents are struggling to balance the new work-from-home order while taking care of their children.  That is especially true for parents of very young children.  It is difficult to focus on performing work tasks while caring for a two-year-old.  In addition, a lot of people have lost their jobs and are facing financial hardships as a result of the “Stay-at-Home” order.  I can only imagine how stressful that must be.

Here in Irvine, 36,000 students are enrolled through the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD).  An additional 5,000+ Irvine students are enrolled in Tustin Unified School District (TUSD) schools that are located in Irvine nieghborhoods.  From what I have observed, teachers in both school districts appear to be doing a very good job adapting to the new classroom experience, and have been able to help parents and students adjust to the new e-learning environment.  It is one of the many reasons why most of us support teachers — they work so hard to make sure our children thrive!

So, this is our new reality – transitioning from traditional classrooms to online learning at home.

In the weeks ahead, Irvine Community News & Views will share stories on how teachers, parents, and Irvine students are dealing with the new e-learning environment, and what each of us can do to make sure our own children and grandchildren are able to adapt.

I welcome Jean Anne Turner and Dr. Phyllis Agran to the SchoolWatch team, and look forward to reading their contributions to this new series of articles!


Below are IUSD and TUSD webpages and phone numbers:

COVID-19 Resource Webpages:
IUSD: https://iusd.org/covid-19-resource-page
TUSD: https://www.tustin.k12.ca.us/resources/health-services/coronavirus-news-updates

General IUSD Information:
Email: info@iusd.org
Telephone: (949) 936-5000

General TUSD Information:
Website: https://www.tustin.k12.ca.us/
Telephone: (714) 730-7301

Carolyn Inmon