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Students, parent explain positive outlook on coronavirus adjustments

Serena Zhao | The Feather Online

Mckennon Medeiros, ’29, wipes down the bathroom sink with a Clorox Wipe everyday at home to help his parents during this time.

From its discovery, Jan. 7, to the first U.S. death, Feb. 29, the coronavirus’ spread across the globe continues its impact on the local and national scale. This week, Fresno Christian, like many other schools in the San Joaquin Valley and California, transitioned their education system to an alternative learning model, March 20.

With this learning model, high school and junior high teachers will either utilize online resources, such as Schoology and Cisco’s Fresno Christian WebEx platform, or gather work for students to pick up on set days to continue their education. Any planned sports or field trips are canceled, suspended or postponed.

Facing the COVID-19 outbreak during his sixth year as Fresno Christian Schools’ Superintendent, Jeremy Brown shares an update about the school and its aim to stay in accordance with local and state leaders.

“Within the last 48 hours,” Brown said, “both the Mayor of Fresno, Lee Brand and California Governor Gavin Newsom have declared an order to stay in place. In both of those orders ‘distant learning’ educational actions were both deemed essential. So, FCS will continue to follow both the orders in place while meeting the needs of our students and families.”

With major employers such as Marriott International furloughing tens of thousands of employees without pay, United States Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin warned that without lawmaker action, unemployment rates could rise to 20%, roughly 5% less than during the Great Depression.

Yet, during this period of quarantine, Brown finds time to minister to families in West Fresno and in a way to help others and keep himself focused on the community. Brown encourages students to find ways to serve others who are struggling. He also urges students to contact him via email if they are looking for ways to serve.

“Find a way to help others or serve,” Brown said; “it sounds counterintuitive, but I have been spending my nights feeding families on the westside of Fresno. I have been dealing with a lot of stress and focusing on others has been therapeutic for me. That may mean sending an encouraging text, call or email to someone.”

The following video features FCS Superintendent Jeremy Brown updating the FCS community on new learning resources and general school operations. The video was sent to all parents, March 20.

Campus chemistry, AP statistics, AP calculus and physics teacher Scott Bucher views the coronavirus crisis through a mathematical lens and discussed the statistics of the outbreak with his students before the school engaged in a shut down.

Bucher explains some of the struggles he faces with this learning model and some of the solutions he found.

“I have created a YouTube channel and I am posting direct instruction for my classes on that platform,” Bucher said. “Next week will bring video conferencing. I love demonstrations and labs, but unfortunately those are hard to do through distance learning so my teaching will be less effective.”

Although disappointed because of the cancellation of certain school activities, senior Claire Palsgaard feels the alternative learning model works well for those who are self motivated.

“I think the learning model will be a positive thing for those of us who are self motivated and who learn well without assistance,” Palsgaard said. “However, for STEM classes I think there will be a negative effect because students need that in person interaction with their teachers to understand harder concepts.”

Summer Foshee | The Feather Online

The above infographic contains additional information on staying healthy during this time.

FC math teacher and wife to Pastor Russ Counts of Foundation Church, Angie Counts works through the challenges of switching to online teaching methods and remaining connected with the school community. Experiencing sadness due to the outbreak, Counts shares some of the privileges she recognizes that she and her students take for granted.

“This outbreak makes me sad,” Counts said. “I hurt for the elderly and people who were already ill and high risk before this, such as cancer patients. I’m sure that students are fearful and sad. They miss their school community. I think we all can say that we have taken the privilege of gathering for granted! I hope that students will be flexible and do everything they can to work with their teachers! We are a team!”

Parent to junior Alexis Baker, Cindy Baker’s family shares an autoimmune disease that she says increases the severity of any sickness they contract. Despite this, Baker shares some of the positives and opportunities for growth she sees during student’s time at home.

“This is a time that we will grow,” Cindy said. “And this is also a time that we’re going to lose. But in order for us to continue to grow, we need to embrace whatever it is that we’re in. And we’re in the situation where we have our families 24 hours a day, so we need to start loving them and respecting them again. We need to start talking face to face, we need to start having family dinners, conversations and learning about each other again.”

Transferring from junior high to high school this year, Melanie Portwood teaches English 9th and 11th grade along with yearbook. Changing her teaching techniques, Portwood explains her positive outlook on the transition.

“With the responses of the rest of the schools, yes, this transition was necessary,” Portwood said. “I’m hoping to add video conferencing to my classes so we can have some interaction and exchange of information that will benefit my classes. Life is full of surprises, and I choose to see them as opportunities.”

The following tweet from the New York Times features additional information on protecting the elderly from the coronavirus.

Despite her feelings that the alternative learning model reduces teaching effectiveness, freshman Emma Calderon also observes the model reducing stress in students. Calderon recognizes that this change is necessary, but still shares her worries for next year’s education

“I think this would have a negative impact on the education now and in the future,” Calderon said. “Students won’t be able to understand the full extent of more in-depth subjects, and if school closes for even more time, then next year we would be behind on the subjects we’re learning.”

Aiming to stay positive, Brown looks to his life scripture verse for hope: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal,” (II Corinthians 4:18). Brown implores the student body to seek the positive even through the struggles.

“Start by looking for the positive,” Brown said; “it is there. The negative and struggle is pervasive; it takes intentionality to look for the positive. Speak truth and life to each other. Assume the best intentions of everyone you deal with even if they don’t do it to you. Often the positive is unseen but it is also eternal!”

The following video from the LA Times features California Governor Gavin Newsom ordering all Californians to stay at home and to self-quarantine, March 19.

Although FCS will be transitioning to an alternative learning model, students are still expected to submit work via the way each teacher has chosen. Students and parents should check school emails often for any updates.

Grades will continue as normal and students were expected to pick up printed work this week, March 17-18. Stay tuned for further dates and times regarding work drop-off days on campus.

More information on the new WebEx system of learning can be found in an informational guide and tutorial sent to parents, March 20. More updates on FCS’ response to the coronavirus, can be found on the Fresno Christian updates page.

For more coronavirus related coverage, read Exchange students in Italy share coronavirus xenophobia, promote impartiality,  National events suspended over coronavirus concerns. For more Feather additional coverage about the coronavirus, read Coronavirus spreads across the globe, public health threatened and Tips to stay healthy during coronavirus, flu season.

For more articles, read EDITORIAL: Media literacy crucial to Generation Z’s response to global affairs or COLUMN: Senior experiences Dubai from cultural, business perspective.

Vijay Stephen can be reached via email and Twitter.

Addison Schultz also contributed to this article and can be reached via Twitter.

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