The 2020-2021 school year begins as the last one ended: with instruction taking place virtually.
For students at Hearst, Murch, Deal, Wilson and other DC Public Schools, this will last at least through November 6th, when the first term ends.
There are a few constants, however. On this, the first day of school, students will be getting to know their new teachers – and their new schedules.
Happy 1st day of school, Owls! We are so excited to see everyone and kick off the 2020-2021 school year. Post pictures of your Owls going back to school with the hashtag #OwlsLearningTogether
— Hearst Elementary (@hearstes) August 31, 2020
Students from pre-K through grade 12 will receive more live, “synchronous” instruction than they did last spring, when the Covid-19 shutdown forced schools to swiftly adapt to online learning. Murch’s principal, in an early August update, said the elementary school’s students would receive one to three hours of live lessons each school day.
At Deal Middle School, a typical school day is being split in two, with half of the classes meeting Mondays and Thursdays, the other half on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Cari Herndon is one of the sixth grade science teachers at Deal:
In a bright hue
Welcome to my class for the first term! I want to give my students something pleasant to see when they log on for class. My mini-globe will be useful as we learn about the Earth-Sun-Moon system. #herewegrow! pic.twitter.com/fa1HNuUVdF
— Cari Herndon (@carinotcarl) August 25, 2020
At Wilson High, students are on a “4×4” schedule, with students taking four classes in the first 18-week semester, and four classes in the second semester. Wilson Beacon reporter Madison Dias wrote a detailed article on how that will work.
And at all DCPS schools, Wednesdays are reserved for student and family check-ins and catching up on assignments. If students return to the physical classrooms in November, the schools will be closed Wednesdays for cleaning.
This is also the first day of school at Burke School, which is also taking instruction online until early November. Classes begin at Whittle School and Sidwell Friends on September 8th, and both schools are offering virtual instruction at least through mid-October.
Murch’s “Pandemic Diaries”
When Murch Elementary’s student reporters were sent home in March for virtual instruction, some volunteered for an assignment from their advisor and editor, Aaron Epstein: write journals for the final edition of the 2019-2020 school year of The Blue and Gold. Nine fourth and fifth graders and two Murch alumni wrote about what they were doing and what they were feeling.
Fifth graders mourned about missing Murch rites of passage: “I learned that school is ending May 29. There goes a lot of things: Nature Bridge, promotion, graduation, and for the people in the musical, we will never perform. All that down the drain.”
There was self-pity mixed with silver linings: “When our ‘school day’ on Zoom is over, I still feel the lack of socializing, that there is nothing to look forward to. Nothing seems special any more. But there some good things happening, like ice cream for dessert, or video games before bed.
There was a lot of empathy: “As I wallow in self-pity, I feel only outrage because I know a ton of people have it even rougher. Take the delivery guy for instance. He’s risking his life for money. Those who have coronavirus suffer terrible pains.”
And the all-too-relatable: “The days pass in a blur. Wake, exercise, work, sleep, eat. So uniform, that I have begun to lose track of the days. Tuesday found me late to a class because I thought it was Wednesday.”
Wilson reporters covered summer of change, protest and advocacy
The 2019-2020 school year ended three weeks early, but not for the student reporters and editors at Wilson’s newspaper, The Beacon. On June 22nd, they published a digital May/June edition with front-page articles about the school’s digital graduation ceremony, potential plans for reopening schools in the fall, and the ways students were engaged in protesting police brutality.
And they kept at it, publishing news and opinion pieces through the summer at thewilsonbeacon.com.
“One hundred gather in front of Wilson as support for name change skyrockets,” reads a headline about a June 19th protest.
“Protests are necessary for change – respect them,” says another headline.
You can make a donation to support The Beacon’s operations. In return, you’ll get the digital edition of the newspaper each month, and The Beacon Magazine.