Students say online learning can be lonely, but these families are coping

75756A5E-120A-4932-810C-2FD980DB785E
By KYW Newsradio 1060

Part 2 of a new series: 'Live and Learn: Education in a COVID-19 World'
___

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Tens of thousands of students in the Philadelphia area who have been forced out of the classroom this year because of COVID-19 are learning online, interacting with teachers and other students mostly through their computers.

Harriton High School freshman Davis Lamm
Harriton High School freshman Davis Lamm learns from his bedroom. "There's not a lot to do. I just sit at my desk and do school work all day." Photo credit Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

"It makes you feel a little lonely," 14-year-old Davis Lamm said.

Lamm started off his freshman year at Harriton High School, in the Lower Merion School District, from his bedroom.

"There's not a lot to do. I just sit at my desk and do school work all day."

Like thousands of other kids, he and his twin sister Lilly are not socializing between classes or getting used to a new school building.

"So, like, I mostly do school from my desk, but, like, at night, I'll go on my bed because I'm usually sore from sitting in a chair all day," he said.

Harriton High School freshman Lilly Lamm
Harriton High School freshman Lilly Lamm learns from her bedroom. Photo credit Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

While the kids say they like not having to get out of bed as early as they would to make it to a classroom on time, Sasha Fishilevich, a freshman at Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia, says being on the computer all day is difficult.

"That's really hard on your eyes and your mind," she said. "And being able to pay attention for that long -- it's hard without any physical interaction."

Sasha Fishilevich, a freshman at Germantown Friends School
Sasha Fishilevich, a freshman at Germantown Friends School, sits at her bedroom desk. Photo credit Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

Lamm says it's hard to connect with his teachers from afar.

"I've had, like, teachers that I've gotten sort of close with, and you really get to know them," he said. "And you can't really know your teachers through Zoom."

Michele Lamm
Michele Lamm says she feels like a prisoner in her home. "I'm on Zoom calls all day. They're on Zoom calls all day." Photo credit Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

His mother Michele says she's lucky that her kids are old enough to log on by themselves. However, she adds, she feels like a prisoner in her home.

"I'm on Zoom calls all day. They're on Zoom calls all day," she said.

But not all kids are so independent. Take Jill Jacobson's middle child, who is a kindergartner at Greenfield Elementary School in Philadelphia.

Jill Jacobson helps her kindergartner, Logan, at home in the living room.
Jill Jacobson helps her kindergartner, Logan, at home in the living room. Photo credit Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

"I have to have a bunch of windows open on the computer at the same time. Some of the teachers use Google Meet, some of the teachers use Zoom," she said, hinting at the potential for confusion. "I have my email open that has all the special codes for science, gym, music and art. But the link for the science doesn't work, so you have to go into the Google Classroom to go to the science Google Meet."

And then there are all the school announcements.

"I get a gazillion emails from -- whether it be the superintendent or just the specific schools that I have to keep on top of," Michele Lamm said.

Meanwhile, Jacobson's oldest child is also learning virtually, and his classroom breaks don't coincide with his little brother's.

Jill Jacobson's oldest son, Ryder, learns from home
Jill Jacobson's oldest son, Ryder, learns from home, too, but his breaks don't coincide with his younger brother's. Photo credit Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

"And he's jumping on the couch and trying to talk to us, and it's disrupting my kindergartener from his studies," she said.

But Jacobson is one of the lucky ones who can afford to be home this year.

"I am taking a break from my business, because I don't know if it makes sense financially to hire someone to come and help my kids with school while I go work."

___
The coronavirus pandemic has altered life in many ways for most of us, including the way students are learning. Over the next few weeks, KYW Newsradio is taking a look at the impact of COVID-19 on education with "Live and Learn: Education in a COVID-19 World."