Heartbreaking video highlights student’s problem with virtual learning in Rockwood School District

COVID and the Classroom

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – A heartbreaking Facebook video shows a Eureka fifth-grader sobbing behind his bedroom door after a rough day of virtual learning.  A problem-filled first few days of school this week have been overwhelming, his mother said.   Her son is certainly not alone.

Typically, the first few days of “back to school” are for getting to know your new teacher, classmates, and how the school days are going to unfold. With the pandemic this year, most kids are not going back to school. They are staying home and learning online.  For a fifth-grader at Geggie Elementary in the Rockwood District, facing a stack of books and one tech issue after another just got to be too much.  

“I couldn’t find him. He had gone up to his room,” his mother said. “He was just dealing with it as best he could. I think the video speaks for itself.”  

She posted the video on Facebook. It shows a closed door with the sound of her son, 10, sobbing on the other side.  

Parents added comments about their own tearful “back to school” heartbreaks along with calls for more time to allow kids to learn how to use the technology, connect with their teachers, and adjust to this learning landscape and daily technical delays that seem to further cut kids off from their classrooms.  

“You’re not in that classroom with the teacher teaching and able to have that back and forth dialog. There’s a little 10-year-old in front of a computer with 20 other people,” the boy’s mother said.   

Kids have faced a full load of instruction from the outset, she said.  According to district officials, these first couple of weeks are meant to be an adjustment period.  

The Rockwood School District in St. Louis County is one of the largest in Missouri with about 20,000 students in 30 schools.  

“We care about kids’ social and emotional well-being. If there’s frustration, we want to know about it so we can troubleshoot and help those students,” said Dr. Shelley Willott, the district’s Assistant Superintendent of Learning and Support Services. “The last thing we want is for somebody to be so frustrated that they think they’re not learning anything.” 

District officials shared the parents’ heartbreak, she said. She urged parents to really lean on their teachers if need be and vowed that at no point in these strange times would any Rockwood student be left behind.  

District officials hope to get students back in classrooms as soon as possible.  Rockwood is among a group of districts following the Education Plus standards for a return to “in-person” learning.  

Thresholds in four criteria tracking the spread of COVID-19 must be met: the regional transmission rate (under 1.00), the test positivity rate (under 10%), the 7-day average of daily new cases per 100,000 citizens (below 10), and the 14-day comparison of the change in new cases (an overall decrease). 

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