COVID-19

We are living history - there's no question about it. It seems that we've entered into apoctalypic times, and the end of it seems nowhere near. "Mitigation, mitigation, mitigation" is all we seem to hear on TV – these are stressful times. COVID-19 has brought out the true colors of certain individuals and has highlighted America's troubling class divide. But it wasn't always like this.

It started out as a kind of a joke, something serious we would laugh about together so we didn't really think about it too long. We were safe, locked up in our homes, and surrounded by the unconditional love by those around us. I mean, after, all, how would this virus every come to the US? It's in China and Europe, and plus, even if it did come to the US, there's just no way it would become a global catastrophe – until it did. It started popping up on the news, on our phones, on TV, and suddenly, this was no joke anymore. The first case had came to the US: one case had become two, two cases had become four, and four cases had become over half a million in less than two months. It had spread like a wildfire out of the blue, and quite ironically, we all turned a blind eye when it mattered most. To date, there are over 2,000,000 infected and over 125,000 dead internationally. Even worse, there are nearly 650,000 people infected and over 25,000 dead in the states. There are many questions we need to ask ourselves during this cris: how will the learning continue? how will schools continue to operate when mitigation is the only thing we hear about? how can accessible education be achieved without compromising quality? The answer: technology.

Distance Learning

Distance learning is the increasing phenomona across educational institutions. Universities have made relatively swift transitions into distance learning via Zoom or other methods of collaboration. Private schools have made the necessary measures to ensure that students recieve the education they need and deserve. While means of cheating may become more common, the real tragedy of distance learning is that public schools have failed to calibrate learning resources towards the right direction. In fact took my county over a month to employ a system like Zoom to allow students to continue learning while private institutions took less than a week.

It's easy to get caught up in the numbers when looking at this relative scale, but when you look deeper into the decisive decision making or rationales behind such actions, you'll get a glimpse at the hours of hard work FCPS workers are putting in to ensure students recieve a quality education.

Going digital is not as easy as it sounds, especially for those in low-income communities like mine. For example, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) have identified 46 elementary schools that qualify for Title 1 grants, meaning that nearly half of the student population at these schools live in poverty. These scoioeconomic disparities can mean many things, but in terms of education, they make the achievement gap much larger than your typical private schools. These students and their families may not have proper internet access, let alone digital technology at their disposal like the private school kids. These students may not have parents who can sit down with them and work with them during school hours. It just might be that the parents of these students have been laid off from the recent economic collapse, and their priority isn't necessarily school, but putting food on the table for dinner the next day. These problems are all too real at my school alone, where over 65% of students are on the free/reduced lunch program and graduation rates are well below the state median.

The issues of quality and accessibility are extremely important for the public institutions that take the due dilligence to create a comprehensive, far-reaching online educational system behind the scenes. FCPS has been sending out surveys to families asking whether they need a laptop so that their kids can learn during this time. FCPS has been asking families whether they need translations and so forth so that parents that don't speak english can assist their kids at home. As a first timer, how does a county like FCPS distribute laptops to thousands, create an online system that works for everyone, and do this all while staying six feet away from each other?

Every little detail comes into play to ensure that students can recieve that quality education while remaining home. Accounting for such a large geographic distribution takes the time and effort of invaluable workers behind the scenes. To really put this situation into prespective, however, compare this to private schools.

The parents of these students don't have to necessarily worry about meeting basic needs, such as food or water. Resources such as internet access or having a laptop is a given for almost every single student. In fact, some students may even have multiple devices that can support online learning. Additionally, private schools can operate on a small digital scale, making it easier to have quality educational sessions that allow teachers to still foster an environment that encourages the growth and development of every individual. Nevertheless, local educators and administrators are doing their absolute best to keep the ball moving forward.

Join us in the Fight!

At inGenius X, it is our duty to help in any way, shape, or form. Now more than ever, initiatives such as Project Edutivity should come into play as keynotes during this health and educational crisis. To learn more about what we do, check out inGeniusX.org!

We at Project Edutivity look forward to collaborating together on more digital tools to help empower students during this time of need. This collaboration will extend past any one initiative, and will involve the help of third party resources.