Distance Learning off to Rocky Start

Distance Learning off to Rocky Start

Last week, classrooms were silent as schools across the island opened with distance learning. Although students weren’t physically on their respective campuses, they faced a variety of issues during the first two days of the school year.

Zoom-bombings were one of several problems that occurred last week. A Zoom-bombing is when one or more individuals, who are not assigned to the class in progress, show up to a Zoom call with intent to sabotage and disrupt. Over 30 instances were documented on the first day alone, several of which occurred at Encinal High School (EHS).

Classes such as biology, computer science, art and English were disrupted. The disturbances included profanity, hate speech and inappropriate images. Student response ranged from shock to laughter. One teacher, having already had a serious conversation about Zoom-bombings with her class, immediately kicked out the culprit while students watched with a disapproving gaze.

“The bombers started using (racially charged) language repeatedly, infusing its use with homophobic language,” Encinal teacher Laura Nielsen said. “It is emotionally exhausting to keep reliving it.”

AUSD teachers had private links for their classroom Zoom calls and enabled waiting rooms, but the interruptions still occurred. The district was unavailable for comment before this article went to print.

Trouble continued on Aug. 28 when the west end of Alameda experienced a power outage, which cut off many students from their classes. Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) reported the power outage started around 1:49 p.m. and lasted until 2:44 p.m. It affected around 15,000 customers.

The power outage left many students feeling worried about missing class instruction and being unable to submit assignments.
“I then looked around and realized my TV lost power and so did my clock and the lights. That’s when I realized the power went out,” said said EHS sophomore Crystal Le. “It’s happened before. I was just worried about what would happen to class (and)... whether or not the teacher would be understanding about it.”

Students and teachers had no other option but to wait for power to return.

“An hour later, when the lights turned back on, I tried to see if the class was still in session, but it wasn’t,” said EHS junior Simone White. “I was mostly worried about missing my lesson and not knowing what to do for homework.”

Finally, high school students’ class schedules also raised confusion.

Many students received their fall schedules between one and three days before the first day of school, giving them little time to digest the new semester system.

“It’s way different than the schedule from previous years and it is definitely a challenge to have to adjust to everything because it’s all new,” said EHS senior Sonia Randall. “It is especially a bummer because us students would of never thought we would be doing school on computers and zoom really takes away from us getting that one on one learning that we would usually get on-campus.”

All of the issues above have only added to both students’ and teachers’ mixed feelings towards distanced learning.

Until Alameda County is off the State Monitoring List for 14 consecutive days, all Alameda County schools may only provide distance learning to their students.

Rafael Arredondo is the editor-in-chief of Horizon Publications at Encinal High School. Encinal student journalism contributed to this article.