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Students and Parents Adjusting to Remote Learning in Worcester

NBC Boston logo NBC Boston 9/16/2020 Alysha Palumbo
a woman sitting at a table using a laptop computer © Provided by NBC Boston

It's reading, writing, arithmetic and remote learning for all 25,000 students in Worcester Public Schools as a school year like no other kicked off Tuesday.

Students in Massachusetts' second-largest city will start the year from their homes.

"I really miss my friends and just the school environment, having the lockers, seeing everyone walking the hallways, sitting at the lunch tables," said Worcester Tech freshman Karlen Perez.

"I think you need more, like, a connection with your teacher, you can talk to your teacher, you can trust your teacher," said Claremont Academy senior Edwin Molina. "I don't really like the computer."

When Molina tried to log on to his first class before 7 a.m., it didn't go well.

"Nothing's there, I can't log in, and then it says that my school's Doherty, but my school is not Doherty, my school is Claremont."

Molina's principal is working to get it corrected, but it may take two days.

Meanwhile, sixth grader J'Lanie Rodriguez had a great start to her day.

"It was going well, and then just crashed on me," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez's mom says once they can figure out the school-provided hotspot, she thinks this experience will actually be more positive than the spring.

"Last year, she did everything kind of like on her own, so now, she actually has the teacher there where she can ask questions and be more involved, and I, as a parent, like that better," said mother Emily Esquilin.

But for some parents, like Christine Drum, who has a second-grade boy with special needs, trying to work full-time while keeping her son focused on Chromebook lessons, or even sitting still for long stretches, is a challenge.

"I do worry about all the children that need extra help and they're not getting it, they're not going to get it," Drum said. "You know, we're not trained, I'm not trained as a teacher."

The plan right now is to have the first quarter fully remote for all students, and then to bring students back gradually in a hybrid model, as long as COVID cases don't surge in the city.

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