LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Thursday is only the first day of online learning for students in the Los Angeles Unified School District, but there are already challenges as families grapple with connectivity and miss out on meeting new teachers and friends.

(credit: CBS)

The first day of school was Tuesday, but the first two days of the semester were occupied with orientation. Students logged in Thursday for the first time to actually learn…without much enthusiasm.

“Trying to see teachers through the screen, learn through the screen,” student Luke Faljean said. “It’s just much different from being in school, getting to learn in person.”

Luke’s father, Lawrence, is not working right now so he is able to help him with distance learning. But like other parents, he feels sorrow that his son will not be able to attend school or socialize with friends in person.

“It’s just not the way it should be for these guys,” Lawrence Faljean said. “I remember in eighth grade, being king of the school. Now he’s the king and he’s in Zoom.”

Parents also experienced technical difficulties. Though they’re to be expected, it left some frustrated.

“Everything went wrong that could have gone wrong this morning,” said Yazmin Arevalo, whose children go to a Title I school in Lincoln Heights.  “I was like, ‘What am I gonna do?'”

She said that the school’s main online platform, Schoology, was down for several hours and her district-provided internet wasn’t working. She eventually had to use her phone as a hot spot.

“I’m feeling a little frustrated that I have to wear a lot of hats at one time,” Arevalo said.

The state of California has mandated that each child receive between three to four hours of online instruction per day, depending on the grade level. This mandate is a struggle for some parents, especially those who work full time away from the home.

Averi Roseman’s daughter, Sloane, started kindergarten this year. Roseman said she’s had to scale back on her career to help Sloane manage online learning.

“This is not normal,” Roseman said. “It’s our new normal, and it’s not comfortable.”

Besides the challenges of learning online, remote learning prevents students from being able to take advantage of services like discounted school meals. Rep. Adam Schiff pitched in at Thomas Starr Middle School to help distribute grab-and-go meals. Schiff, whose own child is in public school, says he’s right there with everyone else who didn’t want to see the new school year start this way.

“For those that are trying to work at the same time, they’re trying to make sure their kids are doing what they should in their class, it’s a really challenging time,” he said.

Schiff said the House passed the HEROES Act, and he hopes the Senate will push it through so schools and cities get the resources they need to eventually reopen safely.

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