Norwich’s online programs celebrate 408 graduates at virtual Residency Conference

Norwich’s online programs celebrate 408 graduates at virtual Residency Conference

Vermont Business Magazine Celebrating under this year’s theme, “Expect Challenge, Achieve Distinction,” 408 students representing 13 online graduate programs will spend a week participating in capstone and culminating academic work, conferences and commencement exercises at Norwich University’s College of Graduate and Continuing Studies (CGCS) annual Residency Conference June 22-26. For the first time in its over 20-year history, the annual Residency Conference will be held virtually due to pandemic restrictions on in-person gatherings.

In addition, 232 online bachelor’s degree completion students are expected to earn their degree in 2020. Bachelor’s degree completion students are welcome but are not required to partake in the virtual Residency Conference. Ordinarily hosted at the Norwich University campus in the Green Mountains of Northfield, Vermont, Norwich’s 2020 Residency Conference will be hosted completely online so that students, alumni, and friends and family of the graduates can participate in these momentous events while remaining safe.

Students from around the world will become a part of the 201-year Norwich legacy with the culmination of their programs at the virtual Residency experience. The Class of 2020 graduates includes active duty and veteran military personnel, healthcare professionals, law enforcement officers and special agents, entrepreneurs and educators.

2020 Residency by the numbers:

  • 408 graduate students will represent all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico and six international countries: Canada, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Norway, Peru and Ukraine.
  • 51% of the graduating class has served or is currently serving in the military.
  • 20% of students have more than one degree from Norwich University.
  • Pete Smith, international speaker and coach in the fields of leadership, management, personal growth and development, will deliver this year’s keynote presentation on Wednesday, June 24, as part of Norwich’s Todd Lecture Series. The Norwich community is proud to welcome Smith to the virtual Residency Conference to share his wealth of knowledge in business motivation and self-improvement. The event is free and open to the public and requires pre-registration. For more information on the keynote speaker and to register, please visit the Residency Website.

    To recognize the accomplishments of graduating students, students and their families are invited to participate in a virtual degree conferral ceremony from noon – 1:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, June 25, 2020. Unlike Norwich’s traditional commencement ceremony, the degree conferral ceremony will honor the achievements of the Class of 2020 as a whole and will conclude with a student photo slideshow. Students may attend the rescheduled spring campus graduation or the June 2021 Commencement Ceremony if they are interested in participating in a traditional, in-person Norwich graduation ceremony.

    As part of his first Norwich Residency Conference, Norwich University President Col. Mark Anarumo, USAF, (Ret) is this year’s degree conferral speaker, as well as being the Dean’s Welcome guest speaker – a traditional event held by CGCS Dean Bill Clements to gear students up for the Residency Conference. Anarumo took over as 24th president of the university on June 1, 2020.

    Before Norwich, Anarumo served as director and permanent professor for the Center for Character and Leadership Development at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Anarumo entered the Air Force in 1994 as the Distinguished Graduate of Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Rutgers University. He earned a Bachelor’s, Master’s and Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University.

    In disciplines such as business administration and leadership, students will collaborate and apply concepts learned through analyzing various local Vermont businesses in areas such as project and resource management, marketing, leadership, operations and finance.

    To complete their academic experiences and put their skills learned to test, Norwich master’s students in civil engineering, criminal justice, history and military history, information security & assurance and cybersecurity, nursing and public administration will participate in live sessions led by their peers that showcase capstone projects in their unique areas of research. Students in diplomacy and international relations will participate in virtual case studies relevant to their fields.

    For more information and ongoing updates on the 2020 Residency Conference, please visit

    Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

    Norwich University’s College of Graduate and Continuing Studies (CGCS) builds upon the institution’s 200-year academic heritage with innovative online programs. CGCS offers master’s degrees in a variety of areas; bachelor’s degree completion programs; graduate certificates; and continuing education opportunities. The programs are recognized throughout the industry for their rigor, small class size, high student satisfaction and retention.

    Source: NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Norwich 6.9.2020 


    Before second coronavirus wave comes, local doctors work to stock senior care facilities with PPE

    Before second coronavirus wave comes, local doctors work to stock senior care facilities with PPE

    As new coronavirus cases continue to be reported, senior care facilities have emerged as hot spots for the disease, according to data that the California Department of Public Health has been collecting since mid-April.

    Skilled nursing facilities account for 1,835 of the state’s 4,286 recorded COVID-19 deaths. In Santa Clara County, long-term care facilities — including assisted and independent living centers and board-and-care homes — account for approximately 44% of its 142 recorded COVID-related deaths, according to state and county data released on June 1. Vi at Palo Alto, Palo Alto Subacute and Rehabilitation Center, Lytton Gardens and Palo Alto Commons are among the 39 facilities in Santa Clara County that have reported at least one case since the outbreak, according to the county’s public health department, which does not include deaths at individual facilities in its data. Webster House and Channing House also reported cases, according to the state health department.

    Patient advocates say testing and personal protection equipment are key to curbing the spread of the virus at both skilled nursing centers and non-medical senior care facilities. While the county’s new COVID-19 testing task force rolled out recommendations on May 14, followed by an updated order from the state health department on May 22, to establish baseline testing for skilled nursing centers and congregate living facilities, there is no plan in place for how facilities will comply.

    There also is no coordinated system in place to provide senior care centers with personal protective equipment, such as masks, which are included as part of the mandates outlined in the state’s new order.

    “The COVID-19 pandemic shows the deficiencies that we’ve been talking about for many years in the area of senior care,” said Dr. Mehrdad Ayati, adjunct professor of medicine at Stanford University, who has been advocating for more state leadership in the purchase and distribution of protective gear for long-term care communities.

    “Traditionally, a skilled nursing home was not supposed to be like a hospital, taking care of very sick people, but this has happened because of the complexities of the aging population these days,” he said.

    Skilled nursing homes, which are regulated by the state, as well as unlicensed facilities that aren’t set up to provide medical care, such as assisted living centers, were unprepared for a pandemic, Ayati said.

    “They didn’t have masks; they didn’t have gloves. They didn’t have the very basic material that is necessary for a medical center,” he said.

    Dr. Albert Lam, chairman of the Department of Geriatric Medicine at Palo Alto Medical Foundation, said these facilities have been forgotten about as most attention has been focused on getting personal protective equipment to hospitals.

    “It just doesn’t make sense for 1,200 nursing facilities and 7,000 assisted living centers in California to each be fending for themselves,” Lam said. “None of these very important providers have been allocated (personal protective equipment) in any sort of organized way. It’s not the fault of any one community. This is really a national issue.”

    Lam explained that hospitals have existing supply chains and larger budgets than most senior care facilities, which don’t typically require these items. This has made it difficult for them to secure protective equipment during the pandemic.

    Rather than wait around for the government to figure out a way to get supplies to these facilities, Lam, Ayati and a coalition of local doctors from PAMF/Sutter Health and Stanford University have launched a program to fill the void.

    Through Operation PPE, the group has gathered face shields, N95 masks, gowns, gloves, shoe covers and other protective equipment donated by friends, neighbors, overseas family members, medical providers and just about anywhere else they could find needed items to distribute to local senior care facilities.

    Ayati said prior to the stay-at-home order, he took his personal — and limited — supply of gloves and masks, put them in the back of his car and started delivering them to various nursing centers.

    “Operation PPE is really our response to a dire lack of personal protective equipment for providers of elder patients and elderly patients that are not in the hospitals,” Lam said. “We have to give people the supplies they need to be safe.”

    Just wearing a mask can dramatically reduce the disease’s transmission, Lam emphasized.

    At the end of May, the group teamed up with Avenidas senior center in Palo Alto to help with its distribution efforts. The nonprofit distributed supplies to 30 facilities up and down the Peninsula this week.

    Lam said before teaming up with Avenidas, Operation PPE initially was able to distribute a handful of supplies that the coalition was storing at Palo Alto’s Webster House to about 17 facilities. Retired registered nurse Pat Robinson surveyed local facilities and created a spreadsheet detailing what each needed. People were driving from as far away as Santa Cruz to pick up a box of supplies, he said.

    As more supplies started coming in, however, the group realized it needed outside help and reached out to Avenidas, which has many connections in the community through its various programs that provide assistance to seniors.

    “They told me, ‘We are very busy physicians and we need support,'” said Paula Wolfson, manager of Avenidas Care Partners program. “You know, what better way to spend our time right now than in this process? And so everybody said ‘yes,’ and then it quickly came into play.”

    A room at the Avenidas building at 450 Bryant St. in downtown Palo Alto now is being used as a warehouse where about a half dozen Avenidas volunteers sort and track inventory brought to the center.

    Jyllian Halliburton, Avenidas volunteer director who is working as the operational and logistics coordinator for the joint effort, which has been dubbed Operation PPE/Operation S.O.S (Save Our Seniors), said they have inventoried donations large and small from all over the world: 4,236 face shields, 14,000 pairs of gloves, 2,056 gowns, 4,142 N95 masks, and 500 surgical masks.

    “There are all of these are huge boxes of gowns and gloves and face shields, so we feel now we’re kind of helping to save lives,” said Wolfson, who is among those helping to sort items.

    Halliburton said the idea is take the donated supplies and divide them evenly among facilities so that everyone gets an equal amount.

    “This is a heart-warming story because we’re all coming together, but it’s also a story that we don’t know when it ends,” Lam said. “There’s an ongoing need, and we need to get the word out. We think that people have pockets of (supplies) that they don’t know where to send. Maybe if we can get those supplies out there … maybe we can reduce transmission in the community.”

    Ayati said the group is already preparing for a second wave of the virus.

    “If there’s going to be a second wave that operates, it will happen exactly in the same places,” Ayati said. “(Senior) facilities always will be a place because they are the best incubators for viruses.

    “The COVID-19 had a very painful lesson for us, but I believe it was not only painful but was very valuable for us,” he added. “We cannot go back to the same operation that we were doing in the past. We need to change it.”

    For information on how to donate personal protective equipment for senior facilities, or items like soap and hand sanitizer for local seniors, contact Avenidas at 650-289-5400.

    Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula’s response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.


    Author: Linda Taaffe

    Where privacy and security 'clash' for remote work

    Where privacy and security ‘clash’ for remote work

    Mary Hildebrand visited her office for the first time since March last week. The residual evidence of what life used to be was scattered across the office — newspapers last dated from mid-March. 

    When businesses across industries went remote, the move introduced “clashes” between security and privacy for the new remote and scattered office, Hildebrand, chair and founder of the Privacy and Cybersecurity practice at Lowenstein Sandler, told CIO Dive. 

    Shifting remote meant more personal data than ever before was available online, and cybercriminals were aware. “If you want to do business online, or you want to get on Zoom, just to talk to your friends, gaming or anything, you have no choice but just fill in the blanks,” she said.

    In response, CIOs, CTOs and CISOs had to account for losing “control of the work environment” and borderless security, she said.

    Businesses are also dealing with contradictory privacy actions brought on by COVID-19. As the California Consumer Privacy Act’s (CCPA) final rules await approval and the beginning of enforcement, the privacy regulation landscape has become more complex. For example, The HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) relaxed guidelines for HIPAA-compliant companies responding to COVID-19. 

    Though states are rolling out phases to return to daily life before COVID-19, an immediate return to an office is unlikely — and a return to the same office environment is inconceivable. Privacy issues unraveled for employees just as much as consumers in the last few months.

    There aren’t a lot of privacy protections for employees because the assumption is that “when you start your job, you basically have employee monitoring that your employer wants to do,” Heather Federman, VP of Privacy and Policy at data privacy firm BigID, told CIO Dive. Employees and employers agree to standard measures to monitor output, now that supervision is amplified. 

    Outcomes of remote work and potential privacy faux pas, include dropping applications on employee devices to monitor keystrokes and productivity, and contact tracing for a return to the office. 

    “We’re going to end up doing a lot of surveillance, and this might be necessary for this short-term period,” said Federman. “I don’t know how much the CCPA can really help with that, because [it’s] more just about privacy, self management,” not tracking an employee’s productivity. 

    Contact tracing apps would rely on employee input and engagement. They also force policy changes to protect — and to a certain extent promote — changes in employee behaviors. 

    Apple and Google’s contact tracing framework gave organizations the ability to develop their own apps, but in doing so, the companies “took on the role of, if you will, legislating some of the privacy protections” built into the apps, according to Hildebrand. “I would almost call it a quasi governmental role” because there hasn’t been definitive legislation to regulate the data collection and consent. 

    As organizations navigate a complex privacy landscape with contradictory components, businesses are at a greater risk for a mishap. HIPAA’s temporary rollback is juxtaposed with the California Attorney General’s refusal to delay the CCPA’s enforcement date.

    Because so much data moved online, the AG’s viewpoint is “this is no time to take your foot off the gas,” according to Hildebrand. 

    OCR suspended enforcement so information could be shared more freely between public and private entities for COVID-19 response. When Washington state toyed with the idea of restaurants collecting patron data for contact tracing efforts, HIPAA-related privacy concerns arose. 

    Could restaurants become HIPAA compliant? The short answer: no, because they are not a healthcare provider, according to Hildebrand. The restaurants — and patrons — would be providing that information voluntarily. 

    The lack of a unified federal data privacy law makes everything “dicey,” Hildebrand said, especially when the nature of the CCPA is agnostic to industries — it’s all about personal data itself.

    “You’re making significant changes in practices and assumptions, she said. “The paradigm around data is changing.”


    Author: Author

    Council Post: Digital-First Work Is Here To Stay, But AI Can Do Much More Than Replicate The Old Office

    Council Post: Digital-First Work Is Here To Stay, But AI Can Do Much More Than Replicate The Old Office

    We’re in the midst of a workplace technology revolution.

    With up to a third of the world’s population having been under lockdown about a month ago, millions of organizations across the globe have shifted to a digital-first strategy.

    The impact of COVID-19 on how we work was sudden. But in terms of the impact on a move to remote working, it was as much a catalyst as a cause. Remote work in the U.S. has seen a major upward trend. In fact, according to a FlexJobs repot, between 2005 and 2017, the number of people working remotely in the U.S. grew 159%, and today that number equals 3.4% of the population. Eighty percent of workers even say they won’t take a job unless there’s an option to work remotely.

    And for good reason. Working from home is shown to boost workplace satisfaction and productivity. The new reality is that remote working will be here to stay.

    Businesses now face the question of what comes next. Governments across the world are tentatively considering how to ease lockdowns and kick-start economies. While safety remains paramount, businesses, too, will be considering post-coronavirus strategies.

    Future steps must be carefully considered — not only for the sake of workers who have discovered the benefits of remote working but for business productivity in the face of a challenging economy. Now is a chance to take on both old and new lessons about how we work.

    What’s clear is that workplace technology choices are more critical than ever. Organizations relied on tools such as videoconferencing apps and collaboration hubs to manage the transition to a remote workspace. But which technologies can offer solutions that retain the benefits of the global foray into remote work and take forward workplaces that are more productive, connected and effective than ever before?

    Locating Organizational Expertise 

    Workers have access to more information today than ever before. Emails, Slack messages, G Drives filled with data — all of these have only grown as greater numbers of workers have shifted conversations from the boardroom or the watercooler to a Google Hangout or Asana task over the past few weeks.

    But while recognizing the vast improvements in productivity these technologies can offer, something is still missing. According to our company’s recent report, 75% of workers state that their organization would benefit from accessing more of their expertise, and on average, businesses lose an entire month of productivity every year by not utilizing their experts effectively. Despite all the data we are sending and receiving (incredibly, nearly 300 billion emails were sent per day in 2019), businesses are failing to identify where expertise resides in their organizations.

    As companies look beyond the immediate impact of the pandemic and think about long-term strategies and economic recovery, this represents a huge untapped source of potential productivity they can no longer afford to ignore.

    What is clear by now is that after an initial rush to mass remote working, many businesses have now adapted with relative ease. This means that the next challenge is not simply to replicate the status quo but to level up.

    AI As The Foundation For Future Tech Stacks 

    Employees split their time over many tools, depending on their role and the task at hand. From Slack and Google Calendar to PowerPoint, Dropbox and Jive, workers can use dozens of apps each day — and as growth figures from the likes of Zoom have shown, the frequency at which they are being used is skyrocketing with so many people working from home.

    Each of these tools is useful on its own, but their value grows exponentially when a business is able to extract insights on skills and expertise through its use in conjunction with others.

    As organizations and employees embrace the power of technology in greater numbers than ever, the next evolution of the business tech stack will be found in tools that can analyze the snippets of information on skills and expertise shared across these different platforms. This intel can then be used to create clear insights on where intelligence, expertise and skills lie in the business to aid in augmenting human intelligence.

    Due to the scale, complexity and disparity between different sources of the data being analyzed, artificial intelligence is essential to doing this effectively. AI can continually adjust, learn — and even forget — as it pulls insights from the existing tech infrastructure and teams go about their daily work.

    Helping identify skills and enhance intel across an organization is just one use case for AI, however. With more people working from home, it follows that there will be more hacks by fraudsters. Moving forward, AI will play a critical role in adapting to an organization’s cybersecurity needs.

    AI will also help in improving customer experiences. The surge in online shopping means businesses need to set up additional support for their staff to cater to all orders. Virtual assistants, for example, may help reduce the time workers spend in responding to simple questions.

    Implementing AI to support different aspects of business — whether cybersecurity, customer experience or knowledge management — can ultimately help workers get time back to focus on the tasks that matter most.

    Businesses are rightly paying closer attention than ever before to the technology they are using to empower employees. Future workers will expect evidence of how an organization has adapted and learned from recent events to create a coherent digital-first strategy. However, it would be a mistake to think that merely recreating the physical office is the only goal for productive digital workspaces and operations.

    The potential of the technology available and the human-powered expertise that resides in each business is much greater than that. It’s now time to embrace AI’s ability to unlock it.


    Author: Marc Vontobel

    How to smash the 'concrete ceiling' at work

    How to smash the ‘concrete ceiling’ at work

    In the wake of George Floyd’s killing, we’ve seen a lot of companies issue bold statements and pledge money to efforts aimed at ending racial inequality.

    But company leaders need to go further than that: They should do more to support their black team members and create opportunities for them to advance, reports CNN Business’ Jeanne Sahadi.

    The first thing leaders need to do is acknowledge that racism exists, said Crystal Ashby, interim head of the Executive Leadership Council, which aims to build an inclusive leadership pipeline in companies.

    And then they need to acknowledge that it exists in their own workplace.

    “[It’s] not just ‘out there,'” wrote Erin Thomas, the head of diversity, inclusion and belonging at Upwork, in a Twitter thread titled “Dear Company Leaders.”

    “It’s hardwired into your organizational structures, team dynamics and individual employee experiences.”

    Ashby told CNN Business’ Sahadi that black professionals often face a “concrete ceiling” at work that makes it hard to move up the career ladder.

    So it’s time to level the playing field.

    Leaders and managers must make sure black employees have the same opportunities and access to resources as their white peers, Ashby said.

    Things like projects to manage and stretch assignments to raise their profile.

    More immediately, leaders and managers should acknowledge the grief their black employees are feeling. If you’re a manager, check in with your black employees, wrote Sahadi.

    And, as the manager, don’t make it about you and how you are feeling.

    “That’s asking someone going through grief to handle your emotions,” said Michael Kraus, a social psychologist and professor at the Yale School of Management.

    Click here to read the full story on how managers and leaders can help black employees.

    Is now the time to switch careers?

    Find yourself thinking that it might be time for a career change?

    Big life events tend to do that.

    But it can also be scary to think about switching careers during a time of such economic uncertainly.

    You just need to ask the right questions.

    What are my transferable skills? Even if you are jumping to a completely new industry, you have some skills that will be applicable in your desired profession. What you have to do is figure out how.

    Start by making a list of both your hard skills (like accounting) and soft skills (those killer communication skills or critical thinking) and see where they could line up with your intended career.

    This step is key when interviewing. You will have to show how your experience can help a potential company.

    Who do I know that can help? Switching careers is going to take some time and it will help to have an ally in your corner. Try and find someone already in the industry who can help make introductions, give you insight into specific training or experience to gain and act as a mentor.

    First, tap your established network and then look to see if there are any relevant professional groups on networking sites like LinkedIn, or industry associations you can join.

    Can I afford to make a shift? There’s a good chance you will be making less money in your new career — at least at first. That’s OK, as long as you properly prepare for life on a smaller budget.

    As you are gearing up to make the leap, get your budget in order. Start tracking your expenses and do a gut check to see what spending can be cut to help beef up your savings.

    For more questions to ask before making a career transition, click here.

    People are actually volunteering to be laid off

    Now doesn’t really seem like a great time to raise your hand and volunteer to leave your job.

    But that’s exactly what many people are doing.

    More than 10,000 people have accepted buyout offers, reports CNN Business’ Chris Isidore.

    And more could be coming.

    It makes sense that a company would want to offer buyouts. It can help shrink payrolls without having to make involuntarily job cuts. It can save money by encouraging more senior-level workers (read: higher paid) to leave and can help morale when people quit on their own terms.

    For workers, buyouts can provide a cash injection if they were already considering switching careers or if retirement is just around the corner.

    The generosity of buyout offers vary and some workers worry that they could be faced with “involuntary” leave if they decide to pass.

    Click here to read which companies have offered buyouts recently and why we could see even more this summer.

    Help wanted

    While May’s jobs report was better than expected, millions of people are still looking for a job.

    And there are some companies looking to hire right now, according to CNN Business’ Chauncey Alcorn.

    With so much online shopping happening these days, some retailers and grocery store chains are in need of workers.

    Discount grocery chain Aldi’s is looking to fill more than 4,000 job openings across the country, while Kroger and its subsidiaries are looking for nearly 6,800 new hires.

    Dollar General is continuing its hiring spree, and has job postings for its stores, distribution centers and its corporate offices.

    PayPal is also looking for new team members as demand for non-contact digital payment use spikes. It has more than 800 job openings.

    Looking for more job opportunities? Check out the full list here.

    Where the jobs are coming back

    As more states and cities start to hit the unpause button, some people are getting back to work.

    CNN Business’ Shannon Liao breaks down the occupations that have reported the most gains:

    Restaurant and bar workers: Dining out is going to look very different than it did at the start of the year, but restaurants and bars added back nearly 1.4 million jobs in May as they started reopening, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed.

    Construction workers: Projects are resuming — which means construction workers are back on site. The number of jobs in the industry rose by 464,000 in May, gaining back nearly half of April’s losses.

    Dentists: The overall health care industry saw a bump of 312,000 jobs last month. A big part of that boost was due to dental offices, which added 244,800 jobs as they reopened.

    Retail workers: Thanks to store re-openings, 367,800 jobs in retail returned last month.

    Click here to read the full list of occupations leading the jobs comeback.

    Coffee break

    Coronavirus has changed pretty much every part of our lives. It’s also created a whole new set of etiquette questions.

    And if I am being honest, it can get a little awkward sometimes.

    Like, when you are grocery shopping and someone forgets the six-feet rule.

    Or your kid is invited to a play date and you want to know what safety measures will be in place. Or someone tries to hand you something or goes in for a handshake.

      We’re all still trying to figure out life in this new reality and it’s going to take some time and probably some uncomfortable conversations.

      But this guide will help: CNN’s AJ Willingham breaks down how to handle potentially awkward social interactions.


      Author: Kathryn Vasel, CNN Business

      The year of schooling at home: hard work, loneliness and little blessings

      The year of schooling at home: hard work, loneliness and little blessings

      After 12 weeks of overseeing her four children’s schooling at home, Keshia Alhasan took a moment to reflect on it all now that the school year was over. Must be quite a relief, right? 

      Well, not really.

      “It’s been more work on top of more work for me, personally,” she said on the Monday following the last day for Grand Rapids Public Schools. “I’m trying to get my youngest two children to understand that school is never really over. I’m trying to get them in the process of wanting to learn, and not shut their brain down like, ‘Oh school’s out, and just fun, fun, fun.’”

      While she felt good about the work her two older children have done since schools closed March 16, Alhasan worried that Sukania, who just completed kindergarten, and Laylia, second grade, may lose focus over the summer. Whatever school looks like in the fall, she wants to make sure they’re ready. 

      “I’m trying to find different ways to get them interested, and to keep learning without them actually thinking that, ‘Oh, I’m actually doing work.’ Making it fun so they’re not so focused on, ‘I’ve got to do more school work? I want to play!’”

      So it goes for parents like Alhasan, who in this time of distance learning have truly lived the adage that parents are their children’s first teachers. Having become, in effect, a teacher’s aide working with her children’s actual teachers at Aberdeen School, she is grappling with how much to take her foot off the gas given the uncertainty of what lies ahead for their learning.

      “That’s my biggest fear, is my youngest two kids falling behind and getting too comfortable with all this excessive free time,” she said.

      Providing Structure at Home  

      Alhasan and her husband, Yahia, have enrolled Sukania and Laylia in summer school – also working from home – along with daughter Suhila, an eighth grader at Aberdeen this year who’s moving to Union High School in the fall. Son Karrem will be going into 10th grade at Union. 

      Even before the school closure, Keshia was “super-involved in her kids’ learning,” said Principal Jamie Masco. Once the school doors closed, mom’s involvement multiplied using Aberdeen’s online platforms of SeeSaw and Google Classroom, which supported the district’s math and reading programs.

      ‘Am I willing to sacrifice their life because they want to go to school, be in a school setting? No I’m not.’

      Alhasan monitored her children’s daily schedules, making sure they got down to work by 10 a.m., and worked closely with the two youngest on their teacher-supplied lessons completed on district-supplied devices. She also kept in close touch with Masco and the children’s teachers, whose outreach she praised: “It’s like a big family.” 

      But she made sure to give them regular breaks, knowing the emotional toll they already were feeling being removed from their teachers and friends. 

      “I don’t want to be overbearing or come off as pushy, because they’re already experiencing disruption and I don’t want to add to that,” she said on a Zoom call with the family in late April. 

      Older children Suhila and Karrem pretty much worked on their own and kept up with assignments, although not happily.

      “It’s hard. I don’t like it,” Suhila said. “You can’t just get up and expect to see your friends and do work together. … I’m lonely. Lonely.”

      Missing Out on a Lot 

      The isolation of social distancing took its toll on the family. Karrem missed playing baseball and weightlifting at school so took jogs to work it off: “I’m not used to being at home,” he said with a laugh. “I need to move around.”  

      Asked about working at home, second grader Laylia said, “Sometimes I like it, but I really don’t like it that much. My hands are starting to hurt,” from being on the computer. “I just miss holding my pencil.” She did enjoy playing with her two cats on breaks, she added.

      ‘I’m hoping we can go back to how it was, not being on the computer all the time.’

      Kindergartner Sukania said her school work was “easy” but added, “I miss my friends.”

      Their mother worried how much they might be struggling emotionally being away from their school routine.

      “It’s a lot they’re missing out on,” she said. “Having to do everything at home is a drastic change for them. I really don’t think they have adjusted to it. I still wake up like, ‘Is this life, really?’ So I know if I’m still feeling like that I’m quite sure they are.”

      Hopes, Fears for the Fall   

      Now that the school year is over and stay-at-home rules have eased up, the family is getting out of the house more. They take walks, ride bikes, have water balloon fights. Karrem plays basketball with a couple of friends but wears gloves and masks and showers when he comes home. Mom handles all the shopping and doesn’t let the kids go to stores, playing it cautious with the coronavirus.

      She continues to work with them on learning new things, from books and beyond. The other night they studied the constellations, looking up at the stars, researching online and reporting what they learned about astronomy and astrology. She has made a science project of their backyard garden, raising vegetables and flowers the girls picked out.

      Suhila’s not sure yet what to do over the summer, but she knows where she wants to be, come fall.

      “I’m hoping we can go back to how it was, not being on the computer all the time. Being able to socialize,” she said, adding she misses “being able to learn as a whole, and not just (on) a computer. The teacher teaching a whole class.”

      Her mother is not so sure, at least not yet.

      “Right now I really don’t feel comfortable with that,” she said of sending her children back to school. “This is my children’s life we’re talking about here. Am I willing to sacrifice their life because they want to go to school, be in a school setting? No I’m not.

      “I have to really see some results on the virus,” she added, “not just be told a bunch of numbers.” 

      Still, she’s seen blessings in her family’s enforced confinement, like baking pies, making doll clothes and crafts, and the kids playing “the dark game” at night and spooking each other.  

      “Our life is like forever changed, but to me in a good way because it makes me more cautious. To me what matters most is the togetherness, the family-ness,” she said.

      “It’s like God is saying, ‘Sit down, get close to your family, be grateful for the things that you have – even the little things. See how much you took for granted?’”


      Author: Charles Honey

      Norwich’s online programs celebrate 408 graduates at virtual Residency Conference

      Like this post? Please share to your friends:
      Crypto Truth
      Leave a Reply