News and Music Discovery
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Outbreak Diaries: The Challenges Of Distance Learning


The coronavirus pandemic has upended life in this country. We're doing things in new ways, trying to figure out how to deal with this extraordinary moment. This hour, we're focusing on education and the challenges American families and educators find themselves facing, with schools shuttered and students at home. Here's some of what you told us from our ongoing Outbreak Diaries Project.

ELIZABETH BOBER: This is Elizabeth Bober (ph) It is the night of Friday the 13 in Alexandria, Va. The kids' school is going to be closed until April 10, which was hard news for my kids, who really like school and their teachers. And my fourth-grader find out that her field trip to Jamestown was canceled. And she was really disappointed.

MARYANNE SHLEACHMAN: This is Maryanne Shleachman (ph). I live in Overland Park, Kan. I work as a teacher and school librarian. We could be out of school for an extended period of time based on orders from the county and from the state of Kansas.

MELISSA GRAY: Shall we do it again?

THOMAS: No, I don't understand where you got nine from.

GRAY: Thomas...

THOMAS: There's no nine.

GRAY: New math, old math. Old math wins. Woo-hoo.

THOMAS: But you - where did you get nine?

GRAY: This is Melissa Gray (ph) here in Alexandria, Va. I have been homeschooling my kids. And boy, is it challenging.

BOBER: Monday, March 16 - today, I delivered over 400 children's books to the local Title 1 school that is handing out free breakfast and lunches for kids during the coronavirus shutdown. It's important to keep kids learning, and a lot of kids growing up in poverty do not have books of their own at home. So I'm glad that the kids were able to come and select some of their own books that they're excited to read, where - their parents can read with them while everyone is hunkered down trying to wait this out.

SHLEACHMAN: Today is Wednesday, March 18. I spent a lot of time on my computer and on the phone talking with other librarians and administrators about what the rest of the school year is supposed to look like with our not returning to school for fourth quarter. So the message that we're getting is focus on a central curriculum. So it's going to be interesting as we move along to see how this is going to look. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.