Coronavirus Pandemic Causes All Schooling to go Virtual
April 7, 2020
As concerns about the spread of COVID-19 grew, county and state officials made the move to conduct all classes online indefinitely. This has caused many people to wonder how students will be able to complete subjects such as physical education and band virtually.
Arts and Humanities Classes Struggle to Transition to Online/Distance Learning
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, classes have been required to go online. This has been made possible by technologies like Google Classroom, Canvas, and Zoom. These programs have allowed for online assignments to be given and work to be turned in virtually, which is useful in most classes. Students in arts classes such as choir, band, and visual art have struggled throughout this process.
Choir and band are classes based on performance. Despite the technology available to them, it is not possible to hold choir or band rehearsals on platforms like Zoom as a result of the audio delay. Choir Director Katheron Latham and Band Director Joseph Archer are finding ways to give students assignments that will accompany the music they were practicing at school. They are asking their students to record themselves practicing, and submit recordings through Google Classroom, Canvas, or e-mail. Latham has made vocal warm-ups, and Archer has asked students to send recordings of their practice time.
“Band is something that is done in person. These online meetings are very inefficient…I really miss the people in [band]; the band is one large family that needs to stay together to work best,” expressed Erickson Frias-Cruz, a freshman in the Central’s concert and jazz band.
In addition to missing rehearsals, these performing classes are having to postpone or cancel several events. The band has had to cancel two events: the All State Honor Band, sponsored by Tennessee Music Educators Association (TMEA), for which one freshman qualified, and the Concert Performance Assessment or “Festival,” sponsored by the East Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association (ETSBOA).
Choir has also postponed their Dollywood trip, originally scheduled for March 28, to May 2, as long as nothing else changes.
Both the choir and jazz band were not able to perform for the Brown Middle School eighth graders during their tour of Central’s campus, which was scheduled for March 19. The choir and band both hope to continue practicing their music, as well as any remaining scheduled performances, when school returns this year.
“It’s my hope that the students retain what we rehearsed and learned prior to the break, and we will be able to pick up pretty close to where we left off,” explained Archer.
“We are hoping we will still be prepared for our May 5 concert. We may have to shorten the concert or bring back a few pieces we did in the fall, but I am confident we can still perform,” stated Latham.
Despite the fact that both performing arts and visual arts have been difficult to complete online, there have been a few positive aspects. Band and choir directors now have more chances to hear and work with students more individually. Art classes have been able to express more creativity by working with what they have.
“Instructional time has now transitioned to a more private and personal space in which each student has time to think and create art without distractions. There is not a better time than now for a student to discover their own individual voice and preferences in art without all the distractions that can come while attending school,”stated Melissa Hoesman, Central’s art teacher.
Art classes have been continuing their learning experience by working on two dimensional surfaces and taking pictures, sending them to Hoesman. Hoesman explained that she may miss detail in students’ art, so she has assigned writing assignments so students can better elaborate on their ideas.
“Art is different because you can’t do art on a Google Doc and submit it as you would for other classes. I’m afraid of missing out on the actual lessons she would teach. It’s kind of hard to draw without particular instructions sometimes. It’s been especially hard because she isn’t there for you to ask if you’re on the right track; you just kind of have to give it your best shot in your drawing, and wait to ask her in a zoom meeting,” explained Carmen Crabtree, a junior art student at Central.
Central’s arts programs will continue to work online through online recordings and pictures, even though it does not have the same effect as singing together.
“We aren’t able to make music together and hear each other’s voices… I hate missing being able to have all the voices combine and have great sound and being able to hear it,” concluded Macey Ledford, a junior in the Central Voices.
Physical Education Classes are Conducted Online
Most everyone can vividly remember their experience in gym class, otherwise known as physical education. Pacer tests, the mile run, and the push up test, among countless other exercise drills, are all integral aspects of the high school gym requirements. With the rapid spread of COVID-19, Hamilton County students cannot return to school until April 17. Due to the school closures, all classes have been conducted online, including P.E.
“[Having] Gym online seems a lot like unnecessary busy work to me. I have to keep a daily log of my food and water intake along with my workouts and heart rate,” Senior Mya McCullough, a student of Coach LeeAnne Shurette’s, stated
Many students already had mixed feelings towards gym class, as the less athletic students dread the seemingly excessive exercises. And if that were not the case before, students are definitely divided about the way the class has been conducted digitally.
One of P.E.’s online assignments asked students to write at least a two page essay on the importance of being safe on social media. Many students wondered how such writing points related to health and fitness.
“We do have to write essays… I’m not a fan,” McCullough revealed. “Again, it feels very unnecessary— like they are just adding to my workload when I could be using that time to work on assignments for my more important classes instead of an elective.”
While some gym assignments may seem mundane, Coach Shurette and Coach Glen Carter are ultimately trying their best to comply with the county’s online requirements, as well as choose assignments that will benefit their students in the long run. This indefinite school closure was unprecedented, so teachers are just as new to virtual learning as students are.
“It has been difficult to adjust, as I’m much more used to having a routine and knowing what to expect when I enter the gym in school,” said McCullough.
The majority of students are hoping to be able to finish out the school year in the physical school building, and only time will tell in-person schooling is feasible.