Reporting on a pandemic while living through it? Student journalists and Chalkbeat Philly weigh in.

Ace Orion and Jordyn Williams, two high schoolers, are chronicling how fellow classmates are navigating the virtual learning world. 

As student journalists, they have spent their free time in Discord chats and Zoom calls to listen and tell the stories of how students are navigating going to school with teachers and peers they have never met in person. And while it’s been a very difficult year, they want the public to know it hasn’t been all bad. 

“I recently did a story about a freshman and asked her: ‘In a virtual space, how are you finding friends?’” said Williams, a senior at George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science. “She was open and honest that she is making some friends – and she is even talking to people online she normally wouldn’t think to walk up to. There is a brighter side of things.” 

Orion, a sophomore at the Franklin Learning Center High School, agreed and said students are also using social media to keep each other current on assignments and to keep “morale up between everyone.” 

Orion and Williams joined two veteran education journalists on Tuesday  for a panel discussion hosted by Chalkbeat about reporting and learning during the coronavirus pandemic. Chalkbeat Philadelphia’s Johann Calhoun and Dale Mezzacappa also weighed in on the big questions surrounding school reopening in Philadelphia, which was recently postponed again, and talked about their big stories. 

Listen here to their in-depth discussion on journalism in the time of COVID-19, what could be done to improve virtual learning, and the storylines you should be following this year.

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