On Friday, March 13, 2020, with the confusion of a potential pandemic sweeping the nation and the world, Coronado Unified School District announced it would be closing schools “in an abundance of caution” for the next two weeks. One year later the situation is far from resolved and the long term consequences are yet to be known. By all accounts, despite good intentions and best efforts, there has been and will continue to be, a substantial academic and emotional impact on school age children. 

Decisions made by CUSD have consequences for the personal lives of thousands of people: 2,600 students, more than 5,000 parents and caregivers, and 415 district employees. The reality of public education in California during the pandemic left each family to face tough choices about what was best for them. One year later, some are back on campus in a limited format, some are still distance learning and teaching through CUSD, some are in private, charter, or home schools. There was, and still is, no “right answer.” 

The fact is that individuals can live through the same experience and have very different perspectives and tales to tell (see below). The “Story of the COVID19 Pandemic” is still being written and will be told for generations to come. As we reach the one year mark, members of the CUSD school community answer questions about what they miss, personal discovery, silver linings, and change. In their own words…..

What do you miss most:

“I miss having free time in the mornings to catch up on my chores while the family is at school and work. As a teacher I miss being able to connect on a more personal level with my students.”

~Trish Ashman, Mom and elementary school teacher 

“I miss my best friend Grant.” (Grace is in the AM cohort, and Grant is in the PM cohort, so they don’t have any time together in the classroom)

~Grace Edelman, Village Elementary AM first grade 

“One of the things I missed most about not being in school was making those connections with my students. I worked really hard through Zoom to get to know the kids, and talk to them about their interests. At the start of the year it was difficult because they didn’t know me or some of their classmates so they didn’t open up as much. Being back in the classroom with them has been awesome because you can have those personal conversations without 30 other kids listening.”

~Kathy Shady, Village fifth grade teacher 

“I miss seeing sports, games and school spirit the most. This time last year we were all packed in the stands cheering for basketball.”

~Will Shoemaker, Coronado High School (CHS) 11th grade

“We miss sports! Eliminating school sports from our youths’ routine during this pandemic has had a string of negative consequences. Student athletes have communicated they have experienced a decline in motivation, increase in anxiety and signs of depression. The shutdowns have hit our student athletes hard. While not nearly enough, ISF has offered opportunities for our youth in Coronado to safely participate in sports within the guidelines of the San Diego County Health Department.”

~Heather White, Mom and Islander Sports Foundation (ISF) President 

“I miss the family fun nights and opportunities for our families to be on campus, seeing our places of learning and meeting teachers in person.”

~Jenny Moore, Silver Strand Principal

“I miss being able to have a face-to-face conversation with my teachers. It has become a lot less personal and I have not had those moments before or after class where I can chat with my teachers and get to know them.”

~Jordan Mickel, CHS 12th grade

“Deeper connections with students and the more in-depth, interactive learning that happens in the classroom.”

~Ananda Dejarnette, Coronado Middle School (CMS) eighth grade History teacher

“I think the thing I miss most is that my son has no interactions with other adults, guiding and directing, not just his learning, but also his behaviors. As a very involved parent, it never occurred to me how important the additional influence of teachers and other adults were to his behaviors. It’s so important for kids to watch and learn from teachers and peers. It’s such a crucial time for this development in his life.”

~Kari Ursitti, Mom

“I miss being able to make a connection with my teachers. Being in class through a computer doesn’t let you get to know the person.”

~Conner Mattick, CHS ninth grade

“This year has been the weirdest. As a kid it is tough going through this pandemic and the hardest thing is online school. What I miss the most is seeing my friends and online school is not helping one bit, but there are some good things like I now have a passion for dinosaurs. Also, for any 10 year old kid I get to watch so much TV, but now that schools are opening that might change maybe just by a little. We need this pandemic to be over so we can go back to our lives. It makes my heart split that people cannot go back to their lives, so hopefully we all can soon. We are all in this together.”

~Peter Cook, Village fourth grade

“Being able to be with all friends at school during lunch and breaks.”

~Madilyn Anderson, CMS eighth grade

“With the youth we work with at Coronado SAFE, we often hear about how students are grieving the loss of the major traditions such as sports games, homecoming, prom, etc. Although what doesn’t get talked about as often is that students also are missing the simpler day-to-day experiences such as collaborating in class, hanging with their friends at lunch, and a change of location.”

~Georgia Ferrell, Executive Director, Coronado SAFE (Student and Family Enrichment)

“I miss seeing my friends the most.”

~Jack Marovish, CMS seventh grade

“The thing I miss the most is socializing with friends.”

~Hunter Bosworth, CHS 10th grade

“I miss being able to high-five my students when I greet them for the day. I still greet students but being further away and not giving them a high-five really is something I miss a lot. It helped me build stronger connections, check in with each individual student, and really started each class period on a positive note. I miss that small time for connection.

~Katey Bouwman, CMS sixth grade Humanities teacher

“Making music together – the connection you experience with one another as you grow as artists and musicians on a daily basis. Music is not meant to be played on a computer. The moments you spend in rehearsal listening to each other, balancing with one another, and learning to play as a group are simply magical.”

~Matt Heinecke, CMS/CHS Band teacher

Best and Worst part of Distance Learning:

“One of the most inspiring aspects of the distance learning and teaching experience is seeing my students rise to the challenge. Early on, some students struggled to find comfort in the new ways of learning and working. Then many discovered their adaptability; they saw how strong and resilient their learning muscles had become; they looked back less at what had been lost and took legitimate pride in their achievements in this new space. My students inspire me.”

~Bill Lemei, CHS Physics teacher

“The best aspect is that you have 30 minute breaks between classes...the worst is that you cannot hang out with friends.”

~Jesse Vernallis, CHS 12th grade

“The best is that you don’t have to “go” to school. You can wear your comfy clothes in class and don’t have to lug a heavy backpack around. And, the fridge is just downstairs. The worst is people take advantage of being at home and online, and cheat on everything. A silver lining is that I thought the actual ‘work’ would be overwhelming, being through the computer, not in person. It’s actually been very easy.”

~Conner Mattick, CHS ninth grade

“I like that school gets out early. Because school gets out early, I can play with my mom and dad a bunch. We play lots of games like 5 Crowns, it is a good card game. The worst part is I don’t get to see my friends. I mean actually play with them. I can see them but, I mean like I can’t touch them and have fun.

~Pierce Ashman, Village second grade

“Best part is getting to sleep longer. I get to sleep until a few minutes before I have to log on for zoom classes. Also, when I say something wrong or make a mistake during zoom classes it doesn’t seem to be as embarrassing as when it happens in real live class. Worst part is when my teachers sometimes don’t understand why my WIFI is not working or when it’s slow.”

~Andrew Hammond, CMS eighth grade

“The best part about distance learning would definitely be being able to do school from my bed. If class starts at 8 I just have to wake up at 7:55 to grab my computer and I am all set. The worst part would be learning online. I know students that do not have the motivation and simply are not doing anything.”

~Emma Mickel, CHS 12th grade

“The best part of distance learning was being at home with my family and being comfortable in my room. My least favorite part of distance learning was not being able to play with or see my friends in person.”

~Audrey Roberts, Village fourth grade 

“When CHS went virtual last March, I already knew all my teachers and they knew me. It was much weirder to start classes in September with teachers whom I had never met before. It is harder to make a personal connection through zoom.”

~Lily Roughneen, CHS 12th grade

“Since I am now homeschooled, I think it’s worse for my mom. I’m sick of being home and spending lots of time in my PJ’s. The silver lining is all the traveling we can do. The RV trip was cool and I love going to Colorado to ski.

~Jack Marovish, CMS seventh grade/temporarily homeschooled

“Some of the best aspects of distance learning are: being able to sleep more and having more flexibility to travel and pursue different hobbies. Some of the worst aspects of distance learning are: watching my teachers struggle to get students more involved, and missing out on the fun banter and conversations that happen inside of classrooms.”

~Kelli Morris, CHS 12th grade, ASB President

How it feels being on campus feel with cohorts, distancing, and masks:

“To be back with our student athletes, helping them to thrive not only in the sports they play, but in the classroom, and more importantly in life, is an answer to prayers! It’s my belief that our youth (and all of us for that matter), need social interaction, and having the opportunity to be with them and have them with their peers, is long-overdue, and greatly welcomed!”

~Kurt Hines, CHS Islanders Head Football Coach

“It is different because only half of my friends are there so it feels weird to be at school without certain people. It is also different because only one out of five of my teachers are in class so it doesn’t really feel like I am learning very much in the other classes.”

~Emma Mickel, CHS 12th grade

“Middle school is very different now. Way more strict with following COVID protocols and hard to connect with your peers and teachers. I miss the way school was before covid.”

~Madilyn Anderson, CMS eighth grade

“It’s weird because there are so few kids in each class and, since each in-person class has to line up with Zoom classes, the 30-minute morning break is painfully long.”

~Hunter Bosworth, CHS 10th grade

“In person I am able to walk around and see the work they are doing, and see if they need extra support. That is difficult on Zoom; many tell you they are doing OK, but they are really struggling. Overall, I am thrilled to be back in the classroom with my Shady Bunch, not just for the academics but also for the socialization, even if it is from 6 feet.”

~Kathy Shady, Village fifth grade teacher  

“I am doing hybrid now. I do have to wear a mask and stand in line to get into school. I’m getting used to lines and wearing masks. I just get annoyed when I’m reminded to keep my distance from my friends and classmates.”

~Andrew Hammond, CMS eighth grade

“It feels stressful trying to meet students’ needs online and in the classroom at the same time; feels restricting; feels wonderful to have the sounds and presence of students in the classroom.”

~Ananda Dejarnette, CMS 8th grade History teacher

Silver Linings: 

“One of the silver linings for me is how well Will, Charlotte and Kitty learned to cook. They make the most beautiful, healthy and delicious lunches! I am a truly terrible cook, so cooking has been a practical, necessary skill for them to develop while home - and an upside to a challenging time!”

~Jennifer Shoemaker, Mom and CHS PTO President

“We have found many silver linings—smaller cohort sizes has meant more attention and focus on individual students during instruction, whether in person or on Zoom. Strong relationships and classroom communities have been built in full BRIDGE classes. Students sit at snack break and swap stories and talk to one another (vs. running to recess with friends), so they are getting to know students they might not otherwise, and in many cases, more deeply.

~Jenny Moore, Silver Strand Principal

“The silver lining throughout this is that we have found that it’s ok to say ‘No’ and focus on ourselves as a family. Not having all of the activities that we are used to has allowed us to take things easy and focus on more simple joys that we might have otherwise missed with a busy schedule.”

~Charity Edelman, Mom and Village PTO President

“A silver lining for me is that I have liked having more independent learning and being able to go at my own pace more.”

~Charlotte Shoemaker, CMS 8th grade

“The silver lining is that young people will recall what they went through and think twice before ever willingly giving ‘two weeks’ of their lives again.”

~Laura Eastlick, Mom and educator

“I had the crazy idea of buying an RV and decided to homeschool our sixth and seventh grade sons while on the road (oldest son, a high school junior, enrolled at a high school in Colorado to get in-person learning). That was definitely the silver lining of this whole thing. We had an incredible two months of adventure and freedom in some of the most beautiful places. Now we are all 110% ready for school to go back in person!”

~Kelli Marovish, Mom, custodian, lunch lady, principal, sixth/seventh grade teacher, and tour director

“My silver lining of distance learning was that shy students were able to participate via the chat feature in Zoom. I got much more participation during full BRIDGE from students because the students could directly chat to me. This feature allowed me to see who was understanding content across the board, and provided wonderful insight on how to pace lessons, and if students understood the content or not.”

~Katey Bouwman, CMS sixth grade Humanities teacher

“The silver lining of the last year for me was time with my children. Not only was my daughter (Julia, CHS ninth grade) home from school, but so were my college kids. It was unexpected bonus time with three of my favorite people in the world!”

~Kelly Mineo, Mom

How has the pandemic changed your perspective on school/education:

“I finally realized how much I miss being at school and how grateful I should have been. All the opportunities I missed out on like puberty class at the end of fifth grade, lol. And, I have never seen the inside of CMS.”

~Colten Marovish, CMS sixth grade/temporarily homeschooled

“School isn’t something to take lightly. Even though this is only ‘Zoom’ the learning aspect is very important. The teachers have put a lot of effort into making this work. Most of my teachers did a very good job of organizing their web pages and work.”

~Conner Mattick, CHS ninth grade

“I think the past year changed everyone. Even after in-person learning fully resumes, I’ll make use of some of the new software skills I acquired during this distance learning experience. I told my students at the start of the year that my personal goal was to make this year’s academic experience superior to the last full year that I taught. I have done everything in my power to hold to that commitment. It has been difficult and incredibly time consuming. But the change that came to me as a result was increased confidence. Confidence that I could learn so many new tricks and deploy them without a net in front of students. Confidence that I could run this marathon for 26 calendar weeks so far and still be in the race.”

~Bill Lemei, CHS Physics teacher

“My perspective changed because now I will appreciate ordinary things like sitting and talking to my friends at lunch.”

~Kitty Shoemaker, CMS sixth grade

“This past year has reaffirmed how much I value my relationships and connections with my students and colleagues. As the Bridges teacher this year for those students who have elected to stay online, I have had to become more creative to ensure students feel connected to me, their peers and remain actively engaged in their learning.”

~Devon Roberts, Mom and CUSD first grade BRIDGE teacher

“Before covid, it was easier to be productive and always motivated to do the school work. At home there are a lot of distractions. I hope we can go back in person full time very soon.”

~Madilyn Anderson, CMS eighth grade

“Last year, I think everyone could agree with the decision to stay home. A year later, the science does not support the little progress forward. As an educator and stakeholder, this past year changed my perspective on education immensely and even made me wonder if I wanted to continue working in this field.”

~Laura Eastlick, Mom and educator

“It opened my eyes to the high school’s difficulty in adapting to new challenges and ways of learning.”

~Hunter Bosworth, CHS tenth grade

“It has changed immensely. As a young girl with two older brothers, I watched my siblings enjoy their senior activities (powerderpuff, prom, homecoming, mr. tiki, grad night, graduation) and always held onto those memories and events as things I could look forward to when I was a senior. This year taught me to let go of expectations and ideas of ‘how things should be’ in my head, and taught me to make my own fun and embrace every event and opportunity, even if it isn’t exactly how I pictured it to look.”

~Kelli Morris, CHS 12th grade, ASB President

“Now more than ever, we need more local control, more local decisions made by local School boards. This past year, we witnessed first-hand, how federal policies, as well as state-wide mandates meant to quell the impact of school closures, actually worsened problems in our educational system. Not only do we need government bureaucrats to step back, but we need to make decisions for our children’s education at a local level with a local understanding as to infection rates, demographics, that can accurately respond to our educational needs.”

~Esther Valdes-Clayton, CUSD Governing Board Trustee

“I know I will never take my job for granted. We are essential public servants and our society depends upon us to prepare our children for the future. While distance learning may work for some, for the majority the teacher and student classroom connection cannot be overlooked or taken for granted.”

~Matt Heinecke, CMS/CHS Band teacher

“The main thing I worried about when COVID first started was how much I wanted everything to go back to normal as quickly as possible. I had so many questions throughout the quarantine. These questions made me feel trapped in my house, away from the norm. My sleep schedule was drastically different and all I could think about at night was when are we going to be able to call life ‘normal’ again.”

~Ella Ackerly, CHS 11th grade

“When my memories pop up on Snapchat (from over a year ago) and no one is wearing masks and people are actually close together, it looks so strange to me. I am excited for a return to normalcy. I think we will all appreciate small things that we have missed in the last year a whole lot more.”

~Lily Roughneen, CHS 12th grade

“I took being able to go to school for granted. I now realize that it is a privilege to be able to sit next to people and have a table discussion.”

~Jordan Mickel, CHS 12th grade

“The pandemic has sharpened my perspective and redefined the role of public education in California. To best serve students, schools have had to adapt to new expectations and rapidly changing challenges associated with reopening. Responding to shifts in public health mandates and legislation, PPE requirements, contact tracing, staff/student antigen testing, and innovative instructional delivery models have become the norm. We are educators, not health practitioners. Yet, this year has also strengthened my appreciation for our staff, students, and families. We are a determined, creative, and resilient lot, united by a singular focus, do whatever we can do to meet the needs of our children. There have been so many challenges this year, but I am proud of Coronado Unified, our community, and how we continue to advocate for the students we serve.”

~Karl Mueller, CUSD Superintendent

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