Reopening schools in the era of the virus is an absolute mess.
Sure, administering lessons via video sharing is not ideal. Attention wavers even more than usual, teachers are burdened by the Goliath task of adapting lesson plans to the platform, and parents are forced to work from home while also acting as a psuedo teacher's aid.
But a recent Reddit thread makes one thing clear: many teachers would rather stick with those difficulties than go back to school prematurely. The countless dangerous factors are enough to make their--and our--heads spin.
Teachers who actually do the work can she light on the nitty gritty of the reopening animal. Logistical pitfalls that teachers have learned over the years allow them to predict where the issues would arise. Their responses on the thread paint a nuanced, scary picture.
makeshift_permanence asked, "Teachers of Reddit, how are you feeling about doing in-person classes right now?"
"What happens if I contract COVID? Do I need to have two weeks of lessons prepared for a substitute at all times? Can there possibly be enough substitute teaching candidates out there to fill all the gaps left by COVID diagnoses or suspected COVID diagnoses (or contact with COVID)?"
"Substitutes already do not make a living wage for their work (or if they do, it's barely so); I can't imagine they're going to be more enthusiastic about going to schools under these circumstances."
"Bathroom breaks/tissue/drinks. Kids are kind of gross already. To maintain top flight cleanliness and social distancing, I feel an inordinate amount of class time will be devoted to routines."
"I envision super long bathroom breaks so everyone has a chance to have the bathroom to themselves. Time out of every hour to clean or wipe down laptops, manipulatives, desks, etc."
"We already spend a lot of time on routines (pre-COVID) so doubling down makes me wonder exactly how much time will be left to actually try to teach."
"What happens under a worst case scenario situation? Our student body has a lot of grandparents standing in as primary guardians. What happens if a student contracts COVID at school and takes it home to their advanced age primary caretaker?"
"Is our small community prepared to take responsibility for the preventable death of a student's primary guardian?"
The Damage is Done, and More Will Come Either Way
"In the UK (English) Secondary Schools are are due back in full in September with no expectations of social distancing and very little guidance for risk assessment. I work in the worst affected borough of London where huge numbers of our kids have lost family members."
"Over 50% of kids live in poverty, we have the highest levels of gang crime, radicalisation, child abuse, and neglect, and only around 5 - 10% of kids in classes have had access to internet for remote learning since we went into lockdown in March."
"Many I haven't heard from at all. Social services and child protective services are already overwhelmed."
"I am worried for myself and my colleagues as we enter precarious working conditions. But mostly I worry for the kids and their community. We cannot go back to normal and many will be deeply traumatised."
"When I try to talk about how anxious I feel, nobody in my family or friendship group understands, they just tell me to stop worrying and enjoy my summer break."
Sorting Out Priorities
"College professor here. I really miss the wonderful classroom dynamics that in-person learning makes possible. Online learning makes discussions more strained and shallow. I also really love working with my students and discussing their projects one-on-one."
"That is much harder to do remotely. However, I care about my students as people, and the thought of making them and their families sick by returning to campus too soon makes me very worried. I want them to get a good education, but not at the expense of their health and well being."
"I would rather work twice as hard to make online learning successful than risk them getting sick or losing parents and grandparents to this illness."
Harrowing Circumstances for Data Collection
"Our start date got pushed back 2 weeks, then it's 9 weeks online. that buys 11 weeks to figure out the smart thing to do next. there will be plenty of data from the schools that are pushed to open sooner."
"Can someone explain why the white house isn't doing mask-optional public tours if schools are being pushed to open?"
"I'm terrified. I work at a high school in Texas. Last year my largest class had 36 students. Between kids not having school supplies, passing in the hallways, gym, sports, discipline, & teenage hormones I know for a FACT that social distancing & keeping things clean can't work."
"If full grown adults refuse to wear a mask then imagine 1000s of teenagers. Our school has a daycare too, with babies. It's too risky & it's unfair to ask us to risk not only our lives but the lives of our students. This is not a hoax."
"There is no getting back to normal. We either have to accept it or risk certain death. I am not exaggerating with any of this."
The Elephant in the Room
"Tbh, I'm terrified to go back and I've been dealing with a lot of anxiety around the pandemic this whole time."
"The thought of going back to college where the students are going to continue throwing huge parties and not giving a sh**, and then coming to class to infect everyone else absolutely freaks me out."
Heroes, Within Reason
"I am a school librarian at an elementary school with 900 students. I am young. I have no children. I am healthy."
I am f***ing terrified."
"I may love being a 'hero' to your kids, but I did not sign up to be an actual 'knowingly lay down your life' hero. The fact that so many are urging us to go back to 'protect the economy' shows just how f***ed this whole system is."
"Staying home is absolutely causing trauma for everyone, staff and students. But will it cause more trauma when their teacher, principal, para, custodian, dies? Not to mention their grandma or aunt or parents or classmate."
"'Only .2% of kids will die'" Devos touts. In my district, that means 4. 4 student deaths in a district of five schools. Not to mention the teachers or family members."
"I am f***ing terrified."
Rock and a Hard Place
"I'm an elementary music teacher. My job is to have kids sing, play games in the room with others, play instruments, and learn how to be good human beings. I see every single kid in the school."
"I am so fearful."
"My entire class is pretty much upended by in person classes. They can't sing because obviously, they can't play instruments (percussion/string) because they'd have to share the instruments with each other."
"We can't play games because the games are meant to encourage playing an instrument or singing a song, and also include group/partner work."
"And if they expect me to do that anyways, then I'm not comfortable with that in the slightest."
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