Inland Empire teachers prepare for kindergarten through remote learning

As teachers across Southern California make final preparations for the new school year, almost all of them are getting ready to teach by remote learning. It's a process that's not only difficult for teachers and parents, but students as well. Especially for kindergartners, many whom have never been to school before.

"I feel for the parents," said Zulema Gandy at Boyd Elementary School in Rialto. "I have an 18 and a 20-year old, and I can't imagine having my child start kindergarten like this."

Gandy has taught at the elementary school level for eight years. Never has she had to prepare for the first day of kindergarten being conducted via Google Meets.

"We usually do a big thing for them on the first day of school," said Gandy. "We make crowns for them to wear; we take a picture; we have them write their name out. We do a read-aloud called the 'kissy hand;' talk about our feelings and how it feels to come to school."

"Those are all things we won't be able to do this year."

Gandy said typically she would spend several hours a day with her kindergarten students. But doing remote learning, she'll be limited to 90 minutes of online instruction every day.

"Either doing 45 minutes, and then another 45 minutes, or three sessions of 30 minutes. We'll give them a break, and then independent work to do at home."

Gandy said there are also the inevitable technical problems she will have to deal with while teaching a group of 5 and 6-year old children.

"Kindergartners aren't used to having a Gmail account and a password. And some of our parents don't know how to do it. I had a parent ask me if I could send an adult to our house to help them. And I told them that we can't do that."

Gandy is hopeful that in-person instruction will begin soon. Meantime, she is trying to stay as positive as possible about the situation.

"The one focus we need to realize is that we're doing this for the safety of everybody. We just have to be really creative. We have to build those relationships with our students. Unfortunately, it's via Google Meets."

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