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Back to School Nights take place same way as classes — remotely
back to school
Michael Williams, who teaches Social Science at Weston Ranch High, meets with parents virtually Tuesday during Back to School Night.

Michael Williams has been through his fair share of Back to School Nights.

But this one was different.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Social Science teacher at Weston Ranch High logged on to Microsoft Teams Tuesday evening.

Rather than his students -- Williams, who has been at Weston Ranch for the past seven years, teaches first-period Government, Economics, and AP Government — he had parents logged in while sitting in the place of their children.

Since March, teachers have been meeting with students via distance learning.

"It was a no-win situation," Williams said, recalling the early stages of the virtual classroom where not a lot of mandates were imposed by the state. "For us, it was 'how are we going to finish out the school year?'"

He added: "I thought there was no way this would hold into August."

Williams is among the instructors in the Manteca Unified School District adept in the re-tooled Distance Learning.

On any given day, he's meeting with eight to 15 teachers in the district, from kindergarten through 12th grade, on navigating this new technology via messenger or chat. This includes some of his evenings.

Even before the start of the new school year, Williams helped out with training sessions.

"We've all been trained in the traditional way of teaching. Now, we're all re-earning -- we're all like first-year teachers," he said.

As for students?

"They're different. Students are resilient. They do a good job of adjusting," Williams said.

He reported that 98 percent of his students have consistently logged since the start of the school year. "Most of the problems (of not logging in) are usually technical issues or internet issues," said Williams.

Back to School Night at Weston Ranch High included Principal Troy Fast and Assistant Principal Aracely Sandoval taking part in an introduction video to parents.

Teachers, who had the option of conducting the Microsoft Teams session at school or from their home, talked about the virtual classroom. Some of the parents were familiar faces while others needed first-time introductions.

The possibility of students returning to campus is anyone's guess.

"This isn't going away for a while," said Williams of the uncertain times.