Whether you talk to ISU parents, teachers, or students, most will agree that the school's closing due to "swine flu" (H1N1) was an unfortunate event and that keeping up with lessons from home has been near impossible! We teachers actually thought we'd have some free time to catch up on work we've been unable to devote time to, yet we've found ourselves without a free minute.
In between preparing lessons for home that were originally designed for the classroom, grading work coming in via email and hand delivery all on different days and at different times, and answering a flood of communications (email, phone, text, chat, message board posts, Facebook messages, and occasional face-to-face meetings), we had Parent-Teacher Conference day yesterday! (I talked to 23 parents about 25 students with hardly a moment to spare.)
A common sentiment among parents, too, was that they are overwhelmed with or simply bored by having to school their children at home. As busy as we are, there are students we still haven't heard from yet. To say that we've all gained a new respect for distance teachers is an understatement! In the words of one 7th grader, "Everything is so confusing!"
The official word is that schools are supposed to reopen on November 17th, assuming that there are no more deaths or sudden upswings in the cases of H1N1 in Ulaanbaatar before then. In the meantime, we will slog away at our desks, wishing for classrooms full of noisy kids (never thought I would say that!).