On social media, we asked teachers and their family members how they feel about starting school in August. Here is a sampling of their answers:
Lisa Marie Rachel Tullius: About how it feels like nobody cares about us high-risk teachers — or teachers In general — or that none of our questions are getting answered?
Tasha Pizarro: Being a former educator, I was sad to hear the comparison of: If Home Depot can open, so can schools. Who is spending 8-9 hours in a Home Depot filled to max. capacity with very little room to walk around? And everyone is less that a foot apart from one another? And in this Home Depot, people are wiping boogers on things, coughing, did someone just lick the urinal? And all the pen caps are chewed on, and all the erasers chewed off the pencils. Oh, that’s right — Home Depot is a huge building where I can always keep 20-60 feet between me and anyone else. Home Depot and a classroom are two totally different universes! On several occasions, I had kids sneeze over my open coffee cup. (And yes, one of my former students did lick a urinal.)
Claudia Montague: Educators and students walk into school every year facing some risks. However, we know that precautions are in place to try to protect us. Yes, a disturbed student might bring a gun to school, but we have armed resource officers, locked exterior doors, cameras and emergency fobs on our lanyards that act as a schoolwide alert system. We know this virus is a serious threat, but we have politicians who want us to go back to school without even the very basic protection: masks! I love my students but will not be a victim for a failing political cause.
Claire Thomas Timm: I teach preschool…. they still lick the table. So yeah, no in-person school for this age.
Stephen Michael Hodges: My wife teaches chemistry at a local college. We’re in our sixties, and I have a medical condition that puts me at risk. Can’t say I’m excited at the possibility of her bringing the virus home. They’re already offering classes online, and that should be made universal, in my opinion. I understand that many people cannot afford childcare, homeschooling, home computers, internet access, etc. But public schools are a local responsibility, and the federal and state government should not be mandating policies arbitrarily created to benefit vulnerable politicians in an election year.
Susan Kelley: I am a teacher and I am terrified. I have several underlying conditions, and I am a caregiver for my 87-year-old mother.
Pam McVety: Our daughter teaches at a private school that her two young sons attend. She has to he in the classroom, so our grands will have to be in the classroom. This means that once they go back in a couple weeks, we will not be able to hug them until next summer. There also is the likelihood that this experiment could result in illness or death of one or more of them. I am horrified and am hoping the school doesn’t open. The loss of education time can be made up, but the loss of their health or lives can never ever be made up. Brick and mortar schooling should wait until there is a vaccine.
Laura Benitez: I’m a recent Elementary Education graduate (class of 2020 whoop whoop) and as much as I would love to teach in the fall, I worry that the students will be shortchanged as well as put through unnecessary risk. Most, if not all, my classes emphasized a cooperative learning model. How will that be possible when students will no longer be allowed close to each other? How will we as educators be able to enact those creative lesson we know students learn best from? Teachers have done amazing things through this pandemic, and if necessary, I have no doubt they will make this year incredible for their students. That being said, how much are they risking of themselves and their families to do so?
Bethany Bennitt: Schools are not governmental entities that should be concerned with liability first; they are the children, faculty, staff and families they serve. They are learning communities. If I hear one more conversation centered on their role to support their local economies or how to protect the entity from litigation instead of how to protect the members and goals of the learning community, I will actually scream. Not metaphorically. Literally. Again. As I have been doing so often this last month.
Tricia Bonner Dulaney: Several schools already have summer staff testing positive, and that’s with extremely limited public contact.
Michelle T. Pletch: It is no way safe to reopen schools for in person instruction. Masks and sanitation are not enough to keep students and adults in the schools safe. Teachers are being put in a no-win situation, risking our livelihoods vs. our lives. School needs to remain online until we actually meet requirements for full reopening as a state — and we currently do not even meet the requirements for Phase 1. Besides the massive number of infections that will inevitably come from packing people into schools, we will see deaths that can traumatize these students for life. Additionally, we are only beginning to see the research of the long-term damage this disease can cause to those who survive. Opening is dangerous and irresponsible. We did not go into teaching to be sacrificial lambs.
Stephanie DelMonego: Michelle Pletch, couldn’t have said it better myself.
Ramona Wright Shelton: I’m going to say something that is raw and real. I lost a student a few years ago. He was a seventh grader who died in a tragic accident. Because I have the privilege of teaching at a small school, I’m now teaching the same class of students who will be seniors this year. I witnessed the pain in them as they felt the sting of loss way too early. I know that it is something that every human has to face, but a teacher losing a child is eerily close to a parent losing a child — unnatural. Young children and youth who lose friends at early ages can cope and learn, but at what cost? Our economy? Politics? I want to be in my classroom more than anyone. Please believe that. It is my happy place. It is my sanity. It is my stage. But for my students, the ones who become my own children, and the ones who are mine by blood, I’m not sure how we can do this safely and without the risk of lives. I cannot bear to go through the loss of another student, planting more trees in front of my school in memory of kids when I’d rather have the kids.
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