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February 25, 2020

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Combating campus closure with distance learning

WE were in the height of our Chinese New Year celebrations when the alarm from the crisis picked up. News came in trickles. Amidst the disquiet sown by the epidemic, hopefully all of us have been able to settle into a well-deserved, sheltered month of mental repose in February.

That is, until we found out that, in or out of school regardless, we still must learn.

Aiming to keep all students stimulated and empowered, Shanghai American School has effected a sweeping new policy to sustain the classroom experience outside the classroom!

A mixture of PowerPoints, screencasts, discussion posts and LockDown Browser assessments, Distance learning @ SAS was nothing formidable once we all sank into a newer, quieter way of things.

After breakfasting to The Daily’s most recent, I go on to my ninth-floor balcony and open up our school portal’s home page to read sunny messages from the teachers detailing each class’ two-hour agenda. From when the sun peeped out from the congee clouds until it rose high in the midday sky, I’m annotating The Circle, planning my internal assessment and outlining practice rhetorical analyses. Then, it’s cotangent transformations in the afternoon, drive-reduction theory in the twilight, and the carbon flux in the evening.

I know as much as anyone else that these days are precarious, unprecedented and mixed in with worry. In spite of that, Distance learning @ SAS is the means to sustain that common thread of education in our lives, and it has done much to stabilize me in my own shifting routine.

Many would beg to differ, I know, but my point is unwavering — school or not, I hope we all have a steadfast presence, an unbroken custom, a familiar voice in our lives that grounds us in times of change.

That night, I pop into my English class’ discussion forum. The skies are now dark, a bit rusty from the air pollution, and the stars are covered — but never gone. The impassioned bursts of back and forth between my classmates are now reduced to mere words on a screen, and normalcy is diminishing—but never gone. Underneath the smog, behind the screen, despite the change, we’re all still here.


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