“I have to spend the day with my children first and then I have to get to work,” says CSUSB student, Miriam Barajas. “It’s tiring and I know it is my responsibility as a mother, but that does not make the situation any less difficult.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university will continue with the virtual semester in the fall, while the fate of K-12 school learning mode remains to be determined.
Miriam Barajas is 1 in 5 college students, who according to the U.S Department of Education, are parents. She is one of the parent students who are facing the struggle of having to be active members in their classrooms and that of their children.
It’s important in times like these to remember everyone is struggling but, not in the same way, says Miriam Barajas.
“Adjusting to these changes is a challenge especially when I have to be on Zoom at a specific time. When I’m at home my children are always with me and their needs come before anything,” states Barajas, who also made her voice heard at the Zoom forum dedicated to the topic of virtual learning.
The college of arts and letters partnered with ASI representatives and held an online forum to answer questions and take suggestions from students on April 24.
On-screen with a toddler beckoning for her attention and her preteen son playing in the background Miriam discussed her concerns about having to put her children’s studies first because she is now a full-time student and a teacher to her children who would normally be at school themselves.
At the virtual forum, Miriam Barajas wasn’t the only student at CSUSB who was experiencing this struggle. Suany Echevarria is an ASI board of director representative and she commented on this issue as well.
“All of the things that we normally leave at home when we are at school are in our faces,” says Suany Echevarria. She hopes that professors can be understanding during this time while students get used to having their homes become their school and their children’s playground all at the same time.
This is the dilemma that numerous students at CSUSB with children are facing. Separating home priorities from school life is proving to be a difficult task when there is no physical separation from these spheres of life.
David Brady, CSUSB’s communication specialist of the college of arts and letters, reflects on his experience with the new virtual education approach.
“Not everyone has a quiet, designated place to work and not everybody has a particular time of day where they know they can be completely alone in their household. Just as I was sitting down for this meeting, my neighbor started up his lawnmower right outside my window,” David Brady explains.
Leslie Bryan, A CSUSB professor also expressed her concerns about students having the appropriate space to participate in her movement classes (dance).
“Most of the stuff I do in the classroom involves group work and a lot of space. This has proven to be a difficult task because a lot of them are in their living rooms. I have a few students who rent a room, so they have even less space than others,” says Leslie Bryan.
Certain subjects are harder to teach online because they require hands-on learning or some kind of physical activity.
According to Amber Brown, the ever-growing number of various applications and software programs used for each class is what makes distance learning so difficult.
“Professors should agree to stick to one program per class,” Amber Brown, a CSUSB junior states, “Each professor is using 2 or 3 different programs to submit assignments and it gets confusing using so many applications at once.”
Amber Brown does make it clear that her professors have been helpful, and she appreciates their effort, but she doesn’t think we need multiple programs when Blackboard is utilized properly.
Students have been experiencing trouble using numerous programs for one class. Bouncing back and forth between slack and blackboard, back to the syllabus to make sure they have their assignments in the right place.
This issue affects CSUSB students with children because not only do they have to learn to navigate these new programs for their own classes but for their children as well.
Miriam Barajas explains “I have been lucky that most of my son’s teachers are responsive when I have questions how to use the technology my preteen is required to use, but it’s still confusing balancing multiple different programs for the both of us, plus I have to keep my toddler entertained while we’re working.”
The CSUSB team is working hard, trying to figure out what is best for students and teachers.
According to Dr. Rueyling Chuang, “We want to hear from our students and faculty about what is working and what is not so we can make the changes necessary to help all coyotes learn. We will continue to have virtual forums open to all CSUSB members. We are all in this together and if we want to make the situation better we need to hear how people are being affected and what we can do better as a team.”