Students share challenges & emotions on first day of virtual learning this school year

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Posted at 5:59 PM, Sep 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-08 18:17:35-04

(WXYZ) — Across Michigan, parents are making decisions they never thought they would have to make as COVID-19 has changed our assumptions about what school looks like.

For many families on the first day of school that means they never left their homes.

Southfield Public Schools started the school year online. For three siblings, Justin Bryant, Byron Shelby, and London Shelby, it has taught them an unexpected lesson.

“You really realize what you had before, versus now,” said Justin, who is in the tenth grade.

Virtual learning comes with challenges as their parents balance work and family.

Justin is the oldest. So while he is learning in class, he is also working to help his siblings get logged on.

“He thought it was okay to go do something else,” said Justin of his brother Byron. “So we have to get him in order. But I have to make sure they are on top of their stuff and I am still paying attention and keeping up with the teacher.”

“It is going smoothly so far,” said Latrell Maxwell, an 8th grader at Paul Robeson Malcolm X Academy in the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

DPSCD is offering families a choice between in-person and virtual learning.

Latrell misses in-person learning, but he says he is glad he can learn virtually for now. He is part of a school family still grieving the loss of Thomas Fields, who died March 30 at 32-years old of COVID-19.

“He was somebody we could look up to. We could talk to. It was hard losing him because he was there for us like no one was. That was very difficult losing him,” said Latrell.

Latrell says Fields, who worked at the middle school as a school culture facilitator, was a mentor.

Latrell’s mom is active in the school, volunteering with the PTA, and as a Parent Action Leader. Melissa Redman says the start of the school year has been emotional because numerous students also lost their parents, and the principal lost his mom to COVID-19.

“This is something I believe a lot of people are taking too lightly, especially with our children because our children have emotions as well,” said Melissa Redman.

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