If even just a few years ago you'd told people that kids would be attending school virtually in 2021, there's a good chance that no one would have believed you. While online education has been a thing for several years, it's usually at the collegiate or adult-learning level, not the territory of K-12 education. However, while most people wouldn't have seen this shift online coming, it turns out that Archie Comics did predict it, albeit without the pandemic aspect of things.
On social media, a recent post purported to be from a 1997 comic featuring Betty Cooper attending high school via computer in the year 2021 went viral and prompted many to wonder if it happened to be real (via USA Today). As it would happen, it is a real story. According to the official Archie Comics website, the story was first printed in issue #46 of the Betty comic series, dated February 1997. Written by George Gladir with art by Stan Goldberg, Mike Esposito, Bill Yoshida, and Barry Grossman, the story was titled "Betty in High School 2021 A.D." and saw Betty and her friends dealing with the challenges of virtual education. In on panel, you see Betty at her computer, complete with a webcam (albeit a very camera-like version) and a sign posted that reads "video monitor must remain uncovered at all times".
Sounds pretty familiar. You can read the whole story here.
The story was reprinted in 2015 with a slight change -- the year was shifted to 2104 A.D., but the original 1997 story was somewhat creepily accurate in terms of the method of classes in 2021 for many students as well as some of the challenges of the virtual classroom. At one point in the story, Betty is threatened with detention after she answers her video phone during class.
While Betty may have predicted virtual school in 2021, the story was rooted in the idea of 2021 and the idea of school by computer being a "futuristic" thing, not a necessary tool during a global pandemic. And as for real kids going to school this year, virtual class may be beginning to be a thing of the past. As COVID-19 vaccines continue to roll out, many schools are returning to in-person education -- though we're willing to guess that you probably would still get detention for answering a video call in class.
What do you think about Betty predicting online school in 2021 all the way back in 1997? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.