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‘I’m Ready to Go Back to School’

A teen and her aunt offer a glimpse at what life and learning look like in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.

By Michael Kress

March 31, 2020

a student engaging in online school because of the coronavirus school closings

Dalioanna Jones is a 15-year-old ninth grader at KIPP Indy Legacy High in Indianapolis, where schools are closed at least through May 1. She lives with her aunt and guardian, Teresa Jones, as well as her 86-year-old grandmother, Teresa’s mother. Teresa also cares for her 3-year-old grandson several days a week. 

Indiana, with nearly 500 reported cases of COVID-19 as of March 25, is allowing schools up to 20 days without formal instruction during the closure, but some schools, including Dalioanna’s, have opted to offer various forms of distance learning. In the first installment of our new series, "COVID-19: Community Voices," Dalioanna and Teresa share how their lives have changed, how virtual school is working out, and how they’re coping with the challenges the current situation poses.

Dalioanna: ‘There's a Lot That I Miss About School’

What does your day look like now?

Dalioanna: I'll get up, get ready, and get started like normal. It feels like a weekend every day, just with homework. That's it. I'll sit down at my computer, do my assignments for the day, and go throughout my day normally. 

Are you doing online classes?

Yes. I'm doing online classes through Google Classroom. I've been trying to stay in contact with my teacher. It's a little complicated to do every assignment in one sitting, but the good thing about having it on the computer is that I can access it any time that I need to. If I have five assignments, I can do two now, do something else, come back to it and do the other thing.

Do you feel like you're able to keep up with everything?

Yes, because with certain teachers they'll upload work for the whole week. Other teachers will upload day for day. I have the ability to either do one assignment, do the full class period for one, or if I wanted to I could do the full week's worth, depending on what class it is.

I'll video chat with teachers. We don't have the setup where you have people in the classroom all on the computer while the teacher is on their computer too, but I do contact my teachers either through phone call or sending an email if I need any help. Otherwise it's full-on independent work.

Did you do afterschool activities?

Yes, Girls Who Code. If we're not at school, we still have access to our club. Before we left, they gave us access to a Google Classroom page that's the website of what we're going to be working with. For instance, if we're going to use a certain website for the Python coding, she had put that on there so we will be able to access it just in case if we don't get to stay after for that day or if stuff like this happens to where we just can't come to school.

What do you miss about school?

The ability to interact with people that I can't now. Just being able to go outside. There's a lot that I miss about school. I like being able to talk to my teacher and have that one-on-one time. Overall, it's fine. I just wish it was over. I miss school.

I'm eager for it to be over. I'm fine with it kind of because I feel I can complete work in a comfortable setting. That part is nice. We have a school email thing so our dean and our principal too sends out a newsletter to the whole school. We can interact with them on there. Sometimes they'll put funny stuff on there. 

I'm ready to go back to school.

“It feels like a weekend every day, just with homework.”

Dalioanna Jones

Student, KIPP Indy Legacy High, Indianapolis

Teresa: ‘It's a lot of Stress’

How are you coping with the fact that school's closed and people have to stay in so much?

Teresa: It's a lot of stress. Sometimes I have to go outside for a minute or go take a walk or something. Just some kind of stress reliever thing. When it gets real, real quiet and everybody sleeps and people stop talking, I try to do a little bit of reading or something.

How have things changed in terms of your routine since school has been closed?

Everything's changed. Normally, when they went to school, they'd be eating breakfast off at school. Then the extracurricular activities they normally do after school.  They've all been cut off. 

There's a lot of online things being addressed [to help them with] keeping up with all their work. They give her a lot of work, and so she's really ahead. It'll be okay. I don't have the same stress that some people have. 

She's a go-getter as far as her work, but the main thing is keeping the extra food around and making sure there are activities for these kids while they're home like this.

Does Dalioanna usually get two meals at school?

Yes. She eats breakfast and she eats lunch there.

What are you doing now? 

I just make something here. It's just going to take funds I’d use at other places. I'm used to juggling so I don't think too much of it. Just do what you got to do.

KIPP brought a box over the other week when they first got out, and that helped out a lot. I appreciated it so much. I try to go drive to the food pantry, but you have to go into there. Now I think they're going to have a drive-up type of situation. It's sort of like a little mayhem going on right now. I was wondering if they were going to let us have some extra [food] stamps or something for it, since these kids are home. I don't know what they'll end up doing. [Note: Indianapolis has set up meal pick-up locations around the city.]

Do the kids have what they need at home for online learning? Do they have a computer or a device and internet access?

Yes. One thing, I keep my phones together. I keep the internet on. I keep my landline and a cellphone, so even with the 3-year-old, he has learning things to do. That's still a main priority now, making sure they stay on track.

This is the first in a new series, "COVID-19: Community Voices," in which students, parents and guardians, and other members of our communities open up about how they are affected byand coping with school closings, social distancing, and other challenges presented by the coronavirus outbreak. If you'd like to tell your story, please email us.