The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has had a drastic effect on the world as people continue to practice social distancing. Many public places like schools have had to temporarily close their buildings and determine how they can go on with the year from their own homes. At this point, Blind Brook and many other schools are currently implementing a remote learning system.
Blind Brook officially announced a two-week closure that started March 16. The school quickly jumped into its remote learning plan shortly after, on March 18. Since then, the closure time has increased from two weeks and will most likely keep rising through May, as New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced that the NY pause will continue through May 15.
Now that over a month has passed since the school closed, the students and teachers are becoming more accustomed to online learning. The school is doing its best to keep everyone updated with new plans and changes. The amount of communication between Blind Brook and its district members could be improved to give more insight into policies in the future regarding exams, requirements, and events. However, it is hard to make certain decisions because no one is certain when school will be reopened.
In order to communicate with the students during class, many teachers have been using a program called Zoom. Zoom is a web conferencing platform that is used for audio and video conferencing. With its many features from sharing screens to raising hands, it is allowing teachers to have as close to a real-life class as they can get. Despite its success, some teachers have been having problems with Zoom. Whether the problem is just technical difficulties, like a microphone or internet connection problem, or “Zoom-bombing,” it is always a major disruption to the class. “Zoom-bombing” is when an unwanted individual somehow enters the meeting and creates a major disturbance, which can be inappropriate or threatening. To address the issue, the company made it mandatory for all meetings to be password protected.
While some classes may need to hold online conferences, others do not because their work may be able to be completed with readings and short videos rather than conferencing. Teachers may assign work to do over a period, which gives more freedom and flexibility to the students.
Each teacher generally has its policy when it comes to assigning work and due dates. Since students have many different classes, this can be a problem sometimes. For example, one teacher may make an assignment due at 6 pm, but another may make an assignment due at 8 am the next morning. With all of these different due dates throughout the day, it can get confusing for students. The school can fix this by creating a single policy for all classes, for example, making everything due at 11:59 pm. This way, it gives the students plenty of time to complete the work at their own pace, and the teachers will have all the work done by the morning to grade.
Blind Brook is continuing to find ways to enforce its policies. Alleged academic misconduct will still be reported and followed-up on just like it was when the school was open. Also, each class must now have mandatory attendance in some form, whether it is submitting something on Google Classroom during the period or attending a Zoom meeting.
In regards to grading and testing, the grades for the past month have mostly revolved around projects, participation, homework, and general assignments. To adjust to the current grading system, the school decided to make the fourth marking period only worth 10% of the final grade for the year. This means that the first three marking periods are all worth 30% of the final grade. As for final exams, a decision has not been reached because Blind Brook is going to reexamine the situation in the upcoming weeks.