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Online-Only Classes For San Diego County Schools Until COVID Spread Slows, Comic-Con Returns To Virtual Stage, And A Preview Of This Weekend’s Top Arts Events

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY MEGAN BURKS

Above: Castle Park Middle School in Chula Vista is shown, May 1, 2018.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s guidelines on school re-openings will require all San Diego County school districts to continue distance learning as long as the county remains on the state’s watchlist and starts to slow the spread of coronavirus. Plus, Comic-Con is still happening this week, from the comfort of your own home. And, a preview of arts events happening this weekend, including short plays by LGBTQ playwrights to mark the state of Pride month.

Speaker 1: 00:00 Only online classes allowed for San Diego while the counties on the COVID watch list

Speaker 2: 00:05 And safety will ultimately make the determination of how we go about educating our kids. As we move into the fall,

Speaker 1: 00:13 I'm wearing Kavanaugh, mrs. KPBS midday edition. What are we learning about the effects of online learning on kids? I think school districts and schools

Speaker 2: 00:30 To stop and think about how can they support teachers and how can they support families? Given the circumstances that we're under

Speaker 1: 00:38 Tips on how to enjoy next week's Comecon at home. That's all I had this hour on midday edition. Governor Gavin Newsome's guidelines on school reopenings will require all San Diego County school districts to continue distance learning and forego in person classes. As long as the County stays on the state's watch list. San Diego is one of 33 counties being monitored by the state because of an increase in the spread of COVID-19.

Speaker 2: 01:22 We are now putting forth guidelines that say based on the data, based upon the background, spread the community spread of the virus, uh, that if you are not on that monitoring list, you can move forward as a County. Uh, if you choose,

Speaker 1: 01:40 If the County meets the targets to get off the watch list for 14 consecutive days, districts can work with County health officials to see if reopening is possible for counties that can reopen classrooms. Strict guidelines were announced today, including all children, third grade and up and school staff be required to wear masks and schools must maintain six feet of physical distance between teachers and students today. Governor Newsome made the case that it's too risky to bring kids back to school in person while COVID-19 is still uncontrolled, but educators and psychologists warrant keeping kids at home for online learning is not without its risks. In addition to feelings of loneliness and isolation, some students may be pulled into family conflicts, may struggle to learn at home and even be subject to abuse. Joining me with more on the challenges of a new semester of online classes in San Diego is my guest Alison Wishart Garah and associate professor at UC San Diego's department of education studies who focuses on child development. Alison, welcome to the program. Thank you. It's so nice to speak with you. What do you see as the potential impacts of continuing online education on school aged children?

Speaker 2: 02:58 I think the potential impacts are,

Speaker 3: 03:00 Um, multi-pronged we, there are potential negative impacts on academic learning or learning loss. As many people have been speaking about. There are also some potential, uh, risks or negative impacts on social, emotional learning and development. However, in speaking with teachers and parents, there are also some potential benefits that families are experiencing in terms of reconnection time at home. Um, some children actually experienced a lot of stress from being in school. So having this time away from school has a potential to, um, give some benefits, uh, from D schooling or reconnecting with family. Uh, the bottom line though, it's really complicated and the impacts will be a differential. They will not be the same for all children and all families. And it will largely depend on the individual circumstances of the children and their families. So

Speaker 1: 03:53 There's social impact. There's an emotional impact on kids. What effect could online classes have on the achievement gap?

Speaker 3: 04:01 When I think about the impact on academic development and academic trajectories, what I spend most of my time thinking about is what are we going to do to support academic development? When we have the opportunity to bring kids back in person with teachers and their peers to create that, that community of learning in the classroom. Um, if we take this time to think really carefully about how we do schooling and to align the way we do schooling with what we know from developmental science, I think there's a potential to, to mitigate those, that academic learning loss. Um, pretty effectively, if we continue to maintain status quo operations of how schools have always run, which we know are, um, not necessarily equitable and don't necessarily support all children in the same types of ways, we are likely to see a significant widening of the achievement cap, an increase in issues around equity, for which children are, um, achieving in school, which children are completing the requirements to go to college, et cetera,

Speaker 1: 05:12 Saying that some students actually thrive in an online learning environment who are those students?

Speaker 3: 05:18 So we have been talking with teachers. I have colleagues of mine in education studies and in neuroscience and cognitive science at UCFC. We've been running a longitudinal interdisciplinary study with Vista unified school districts. And so we've had an opportunity to speak with teachers and with parents and, um, to see how, how they're faring during this time, we ran some teacher focus groups in the spring, and the teachers talked with us about how some of their kids who had been very, um, shy and maybe intimidated in the classroom, not the first ones to raise their hands. That those children were actually thriving in this online environment that, um, that it was really catering to some of their strengths. Whereas the social environment of the classroom, um, had them withdrawing a bit more. And they said that actually some of their children were the more, uh, boisterous or outgoing kids. Those were the ones that were having a harder time with the virtual learning space. Alison

Speaker 1: 06:18 And you shared with us, you have two kids at home or taking classes online. Now what's been your experience.

Speaker 3: 06:25 Yeah. We have my two daughters going into fifth and seventh grade. Their school did an incredible job with, from day one, having daily, uh, online synchronous class meetings. And they really focused on connection with the kids. And I really appreciated that because they really prioritize the wellbeing of children and maintaining that classroom community and connection. Um, but it's been one of, you know, a mixed bag. There have been positive things and things that are really challenging. I have a daughter who struggles with depression and the emotional, uh, mental health. And that has been really hard for her. Um, another daughter who struggles with dyslexia that has been easier to continue to maintain support with one on one meetings with her special ed teacher and tutor. Um, so I think like other parents that are things that have been really, really hard and other things that have are building really important resiliencies in them.

Speaker 1: 07:22 What is your major concern? If a in-person schooling is suspended indefinitely because of code?

Speaker 3: 07:30 My major concern is the lack of support that families are likely to continue experiencing. Um, I think school districts and schools need to stop and think about how can they support teachers and how can they support families. Um, given the circumstances that we're under. And I don't think that focusing our emphasis on meeting academic standards is the way to do that. So if we can re de deploy teacher efforts in school efforts on connecting with families, helping families get the support that they need. Um, a lot of teachers talk about making daily phone calls to their parents and relieve some of that pressure from teachers to make sure that they're meeting those state standards and academic standards. I think that's going to be in the best interest of children and families in the long run and actually enable children to come back and to regain any losses in academic achievement that they might have experienced during this time.

Speaker 1: 08:32 I've been speaking with Alison Rashard Garah and associate professor at UC San Diego's department of education studies and a developmental psychologist. And Alison, thank you so much for speaking with us.

Speaker 3: 08:44 Thank you so much for having me

Speaker 1: 08:50 For the first time in its 50 year history, Comicon international has had to its pop culture

Speaker 4: 08:56 Convention and move the event online KPBS arts reporter, Beth Armando explains what you can expect from the virtual experience. You won't be hearing this at the convention center next week.

Speaker 5: 09:08 The exhibit hall is now open to attendees. Have a great Comicon.

Speaker 4: 09:13 You can download the audio from the Comicon website and play it at home.

Speaker 5: 09:18 We've been working pretty hard, actually trying to translate the physical show to an online endeavor.

Speaker 4: 09:26 David Glanzer is spokesperson for Comicon internet.

Speaker 5: 09:29 For some of their 50 years, we had to cancel a physical show. It was very heartbreaking.

Speaker 4: 09:34 It kind of emphasizes the positive with an ad that boasts no lines and free badges for all but fun co vice president, Michael Becker says, there's no way to sugar coat. This

Speaker 5: 09:44 Physically not being there and interacting with people is not going to be as good.

Speaker 4: 09:49 A manufacturer of pop culture. Collectibles fun co has built a community of avid fans while exhibiting at Comicon.

Speaker 5: 09:56 That's really what drives fun coat and Comicon is really the community. I mean, I think you take all the stuff out of the equation. I think most people just look forward to seeing their friends and family once a year in San Diego. I think that's bigger than the stuff,

Speaker 4: 10:12 But this year fans will have to make do with an online experience. Comic con at home offers more than 300 panels, a masquerade and a virtual version of the exhibit hall since Comicon sister convention WonderCon was canceled earlier this year, exhibitors like IDW publishing already have experience moving everything online since IDW president Chris Ryle

Speaker 5: 10:36 Largely what we did around WonderCon, which is trying to keep as much normalcy as possible. And these very abnormal time, right?

Speaker 4: 10:44 I was excited about getting more guests for online panels and still being able to offer exclusive comics through the website. But he misses having a booth where he can interact with attendees.

Speaker 5: 10:55 Again, just the spontaneity. If somebody walks up and they have a kid with them and their kid likes this, so what else might that kid like? And you can recommend and put it in their hand, this thing, and they can flip through it and see that, you know, that might be a cool thing. And so it's just the ability to talk to people so directly and sort of curate what they might be looking for.

Speaker 4: 11:15 But for the better part of a decade, it's been difficult for people to get into Comicon. So this virtual version of the pop culture convention will be far more accessible since Becker

Speaker 5: 11:25 Be a lot of people that for the first time, get through at least get a little sense of what Comicon might be about by being included in some of the panels that people wait for a day out to get into Holly H and camp out just to get that spot. So now they just can click on and hopefully be able to enjoy and participate in what a Hollywood kind of might be like without having to fly here, staying in a hotel camp out for two days,

Speaker 4: 11:52 [inaudible] veterans like may be able to enjoy more panels.

Speaker 6: 11:55 I think so like I'm actually going to try to take some time just to attend some things or watch some things that, uh, like you say, never or nearly have time to do.

Speaker 4: 12:04 Ryan May be president of a publishing company, but at heart he's a geeky fan. Just like everyone else who attends and runs the convention. Becker says, that's the appeal.

Speaker 6: 12:14 All of us are definitely entrenched in the world of geekdom. And I don't think that ever goes away. So being around likeminded people and sharing that and not having to feel weird or embarrassed is a good thing.

Speaker 4: 12:27 Comicon at home, Lex, the in person component, get it may provide an opportunity to expand the geek community. In new ways. Glanzer says the organization took a financial hit from having to cancel both WonderCon and Comicon, but he's hopeful about comic con at home.

Speaker 6: 12:44 It should be a fun event. It'll be different, but it'll still be Comicon. Fans are already trying to find,

Speaker 4: 12:50 Find creative ways to line up at home, engage in cost play and generally connect with fellow geeks online with Comicon at home. There's simply no excuse not to attend panels. Top of my list is max Brooks's zombies and Corona virus planning for the next big outbreak. But you can also find panels on LGBTQ comics, Afrofuturism and ultra lawyers on KGU patrol Beth like a Mondo KPBS news to create your own schedule for the online panels, go to comic-con.org and click on the Comicon at home tab. The virtual convention runs next Wednesday through Sunday.

Speaker 6: 13:37 [inaudible]

Speaker 4: 13:44 This weekend is packed with some unique performance options and ways to experience and interact with art. Despite our continued virtual shutting condition, you'll find original short place that are part of San Diego pride. You can experience sculpture and ballet through augmented reality, plus an enchanting. Choose your own adventure style performance with the LA Jolla Playhouse. Joining me is KPBS arts editor, Julia Dixon Evans. Julia. Welcome. Hi Maureen, let's start with something family oriented. The LA Jolla Playhouse has cooked up an immersive theater experience this weekend. So what can we expect?

Speaker 6: 14:23 Wizards of Oakwood drive is a play by Tom Salomon. He's an immersive theater director and writer based out of New York and this play combines wizards and treasure. Hence with a little dash of choose your own adventure. They have a handful of world-class actors and cleaning. Edric you, Tommy who performed the title role and the national tour of Hamilton. And they're all wizards trying to win your vote. As the best wizard kids can be on screen playing along and they provided a supply list online of household objects. You'll need here's a teaser from LA Jolla Playhouse

Speaker 2: 15:00 We're kids. We found a book, a book of spells, and that's how we became wizards. Masters of wizardry. I don't, we don't look like typical wizard know

Speaker 6: 15:13 I'll have to have a creepy long beard to be a wizard. We're not your typical,

Speaker 2: 15:19 But we are masters of wizardry, but only one can be the best. And that's me. It's me. It's me. It's me. It's me. It's me.

Speaker 6: 15:37 Wizard of Oakwood drive from the LA Jolla Playhouse will hold virtual interactive performances on zoom every half hour from two to 6:00 PM today and from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, Saturday and Sunday, plus shows next Thursday through Sunday as well. Up next in the visual art world, we have an artist talk tonight from Lux art institutes, new artists in residence. Yes, Cammie sorrows, who is a sculptor based in Los Angeles, began her residency at Lex. Recently. Her art tends to be inspired by Greco Roman sculptures, these vessel Lake pieces, but they're combined with a modern influence using industrial materials. Luxe also just launched an augmented reality app with the stars exhibition, kicking it off. I downloaded it on my phone and it basically turned my kitchen into the exhibition space. It's kind of a nice way to remember what it feels like to wander through a museum.

Speaker 6: 16:37 The app is free and you can explore the exhibition as a whole and then learn more about the artist and each individual piece to Cammie star Rose holds a virtual artist talk tonight at seven with Lux art Institute. Now in the dance world, we have a special offering from the Roslyn box kicking off tonight. Tell us about ghost light masquerade. Yeah, so the Roslyn box is a local contemporary ballet company and they've been consistently putting out virtual work during the last few months. The latest has been in the works for awhile and also involves fermented reality. They've turned their performance space into kind of like a modern day speakeasy playing up the haunted vibe of their 10th Avenue art space. The original choreography is masquerade inspired and the music is vintage and spooky. Here's one of their hallway dances, which is a waltz composition called the vampire masquerade by Peter Guy

Speaker 2: 17:49 [inaudible]

Speaker 6: 17:51 And the technology is a nice twist on that. If you were lucky enough to snag one of the mask ticket packages before they sold out, you'll be able to watch this performance, but the special headset and augmented reality, we have fancy cocktail in hand that they'll deliver for the rest of us. We can still watch the virtual 360 degree performance without the headset. It's the ghost light level, the Rawson box presents ghost light masquerade that begins tonight through July 24th. And finally, to wrap up a virtual pride weekend, San Diego, the old globe has paired with diversionary theaters, teen acting program to put together for short LGBTQ plays. Tell us about the project. Yeah, this is the first pride celebration for CoLab, which is a program of the old Globes arts engagement wing and it'll feature live stream performances of brand new original short plays by local playwrights, Sherry angle, Jamie [inaudible], Catherine Harrop and Mickey Vale.

Speaker 6: 18:53 It's all produced by the diversionary Skyler Sullivan. I've seen performances at work by several of these writers, and this is a crop of local talent, definitely worth paying attention to it's a great way to add some art and our local creative community into this pretty unconventional pride week. That free performances also features professional actors along with participants from diversion Aires, teen acting program. This summer colabs globe pride is Sunday at 2:00 PM on the old Globes arts engagement digital platforms. For more arts events, you can check out the KPBS arts calendar or sign up for the weekly KPBS arts newsletter@kpbs.org slash arts. I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor, Julia Dixon. Evan's Julia. Thanks once again. Thank you, Maureen.

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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.