Sheltered Diaries: Who’s Zoomin’ Who?

Could one of the outcomes of this whole school-at-home, distance-learning, educating-during-pandemic experiment be a future workforce that knows how to mute a microphone when on a conference call?

A few friends and I mused about this in a Facebook chat the other day, but after watching Tiny navigate art class in a Zoom session today, deftly flicking to mute and raising his hand (by using the appropriate icon) when he wanted to speak, I can’t help but wonder if tomorrow’s meeting that could’ve been an email will at least be without the usual, “Dan, we’re going to need you to mute your mic unless you’re speaking.”

I asked Tiny if it was hard to pick up on what to do with Zoom, and he gave me a look. It’s the look he gives us when he feels we are being old and embarrassing. It happened overnight – one night I put a cute little boy to bed, and he woke up an eye-rolling pre-teen.

Courtesy Dallas ISD

But all of this – the art, music, and PE classes in Zoom, the use of Google Classroom and other apps to communicate and post lessons – is mostly up and running. And a lot of this – the platforms and the technology – is thanks to Dallas ISD’s staff and teachers, who pulled off the Herculean yet again, just months after getting 3,000 students into classrooms within 48 hours after a tornado.

How incredible is the work the district is doing? Not only are they making sure that every student has access to laptops and internet, and making sure that teachers are connecting with students and counselors are standing by if families need them, but they’re also providing three meals a day, served grab-and-go style twice a week. As of last Thursday, the district had served more than 211,000 meals to 24,000 students.

On the second day of the bulk grab-and-go meal service on Thursday, March 26, Dallas ISD served more than 211,000 meals to nearly 24,000 students, providing breakfast, lunch, and dinner for three days. This week, they’ll also be working with the Homeless Education program to transport meals to Budget Suites at 8150 North Stemmons Freeway, where housing insecure students and families can pick up meals.

Still looking for more enrichment? I would also suggest subscribing to our Fun Things To Do newsletter, where (for the time being) we’re sharing new ways to take in art, music, and more at home. There are plenty of options for families that would be great to augment what your teachers are already providing.

Have a young, budding writer in your house – or maybe just want to improve writing skills with something more structured? IndyKids is a free paper written by kids, and they are also seeking submissions. You can get details here.

Want to get some art classes in, but don’t have the talent to lead them yourself? North Texas Performing Arts is offering inexpensive classes in an ala cart format that allows you to pick and choose a class, and each class is about $10. Everything from music writing to piano lessons to acting classes to scriptwriting is offered, and even sewing and costume design classes are on the docket. Check here for details.

And of course, keep your eyes peeled on Dallas ISD’s social media accounts for more suggestions, too.

Let us know how your distance-learning adventure is going by sharing in the comments, via the Preston Hollow or Park Cities Facebook pages, or through this link.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at

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