Wyatt Boyd, 9, wakes up early and walks to the computer in his living room for class.

“I just feel normal every time I get on now,” said Wyatt, a Chandler Elementary fourth-grader.

Victoria school district students did not return to class after spring break because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, they took to their computers to finish the rest of the semester.

But it wasn’t easy for Wyatt.

“You can’t really go outside,” he said. “I was feeling like it was weird and isolated.”

Wyatt meets with his teacher for an online class every Tuesday and Thursday.

He wakes up at 9 a.m. every weekday morning before he logs on to his 10 a.m. class, he said. After a quick break, he moves on to his 1 p.m. class.

On days he doesn’t have a class, he steadily works through online assignments. Wyatt does art, music, P.E., English, social studies and math assignments throughout the day until he reaches the total for the week. He spends about three to four hours on school work.

“It was weird because classes were way smaller,” he said.

His teacher Cassandra Bednarczyk created an at-home classroom to look as much like school as possible. Math problems were projected behind her on a white board with “Queen Bee’s 4th Grade Hive” written in black marker.

Bednarczyk has four classes every day and each class is broken into small groups of students.

“They just do the major lesson with me now, and they do those extra things supervised by their parents,” she said.

Bednarczyk said the assignments are where she sees what the students know and what they don’t know. In the classroom, she could peek over students’ shoulders to check their work, but that isn’t an option anymore.

“I won’t know someone can multiply unless I see it,” she said.

The students use Microsoft Teams to see their teacher and a few of their fellow students, and many parents log on with their children, as well, Bednarczyk said.

“It really helps build the parent relationships, too,” she said. “We already had the kid relationship because we saw them every day. We didn’t see the parents every day.”

Wyatt said online class is harder than a normal classroom setting because his teacher isn’t readily available. His mother, Amanda Boyd, agrees.

“I’ve had to do so much learning on YouTube,” Boyd said. “The stuff they learn now is not how I learned it. I had to relearn all of their stuff to teach them.”

Boyd spends her days helping her second- and fourth-graders through their online school work, and she tries to help like their teachers would. She said she can look at a problem and get the same answer, but she and her children solve it with different steps.

She said Wyatt’s live classroom setting Bednarczyk created has been great for her son.

“That saved my life,” she said. “It made everything so much easier.”

The Boyd family students took on the responsibility of at-home learning without much pressure from their mother. It’s nothing like making them do their homework after a long day of school, Boyd said.

“School at home is now what is expected,” she said. “They took more responsibility for it.”

The kids may have adjusted to at-home learning, but Boyd is ready for her children to go back to school. She sees her kids falling behind in social interaction because they have been working alone for the past two months, Boyd said.

“COVID is scary, and I understand it hurts and kills people but so does isolation,” Boyd said. “These kids are facing isolation they haven’t experienced before.”

Samantha Douty is the education reporter at the Victoria Advocate. She grew up in Corpus Christi and graduated from UT-Arlington with a bachelor's in journalism.

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