Kingsland School seventh-grader Slade Kilpatrick is hard at work in his virtual classroom in the family’s living room. Courtesy photo
A TV tray serves as his desk, a couch his chair. The family living room has become a classroom for Kingsland School seventh-grader Slade Kilpatrick since COVID-19 restrictions closed his campus.
“Our whole floor is a clutter of paper,” Slade said. “That’s where I put all of my papers and pencils and pencil sharpeners.”
The school day, which used to start at 7:45 a.m., now begins at 9 a.m. and requires a computer, an internet connection, and multiple computer programs that Slade has mastered to receive and turn in his school work. What took him eight hours a day the first week, only takes four to six hours now.
“The first week, it was ridiculous,” he said. “The first week, it was crazy. But the last few weeks, it’s working pretty good.”
Assignments are given via Blackboard.com. Worksheets and essays are downloaded or uploaded through Google Docs. Sometimes, Slade takes photos of his work to send to his teachers.
He attends four classes a day with classmates and teachers on Zoom, a computer and smartphone app for virtual, face-to-face meetings. Science and math classes are 15 minutes each; social studies and English classes are 30 minutes apiece. Two classes with teachers available to answer questions from students are optional.
Because his parents are essential workers — mother Shannon is a Baylor Scott & White Health nurse and father Matt is a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officer — Slade has to be self-motivated.
“It’s way harder to focus at home,” he said, adding that he misses his friends.
Remote learning does have a few good points, though.
“I don’t have to get out of my PJs, I get to stay up later, my parents aren’t home, and I get to play Fortnite for a lot longer,” he said.