Taft Students, Teachers Begin The Year With Remote Learning


Carmella Gilio

The school is empty with tables and signs positioned at the main entrance to prevent student entry.

Vivian Aviles, Senior Editor - Taft Today


Taft students and teachers began the school year with remote learning and teachers and students have been adjusting to life in virtual classrooms.

Before announcing the district would open with fully remote instruction,  Chicago Public Schools (CPS) initially planned for a hybrid model. After surveying the districts’ parents, teachers and staff, CPS opted to begin the year with remote instruction. As of now, CPS is planning for in-person instruction to resume in November.

“I am happy that we started the year remotely. It is the safest option, and at the end that is most important,” said AVID and IB Film teacher Juan Salinas via email. 

Some teachers are ready to get back in the building and see their students.

“I hate remote learning,” said English teacher Brad Engel. “I miss the kids, I miss my co-workers, I miss everything Taft.  I can’t wait to have everyone back in the building.”

The start of the school year has presented students and teachers with some unique challenges.

“We didn’t really expect the class bombings–you know, the kids that sneak in (the google meets) and do inappropriate stuff. But what’s amazing to me, I don’t know if kids realize, you’re being recorded. We know exactly who you are, and we know your IP address, and you know, I don’t understand why kids are still doing it,” said principal Mark Grishaber. 

Aside from interruptions in class, students are having a difficult time making a connection with their teachers. 

“I think it’s harder to get to know the teacher because, like, you’re through a screen and you can’t really get their vibes. But also, we kind of do get to know them because they give us a bunch of presentations about who they are, which they don’t normally do. Like, they’ve been making virtual lockers with their bitmojis,” said senior Sarah Shilwa. 

Students aren’t the only ones struggling to get familiar with their teachers, as teachers are facing the same obstacle. 

“It has absolutely been a challenge to connect with students remotely. While I am still able to connect with some, it has been very difficult not interacting with them in person. Side conversations and check-ins have been the most challenging,” said Salinas. 

Because of remote learning, both students and teachers have to get to know each other in a new way. Similarly, students have to connect with their peers differently as well. 

“I make friends by asking for people’s snapchat in the (google meet) chat and just talking to them,” said freshman Daniel Aviles.

Remote learning has been especially hard for seniors navigating the college application process.  

“It feels like we are kind of doing it alone, and also, it’s annoying looking at a screen for eight hours and then having to look at a screen for even more time while we write essays and fill out applications. My whole life is literally staring at a screen now,” said Shilwa. 

Students are currently scheduled to resume in-person learning, Monday, November, 9.