Since the announcement that Department of Secondary and Elementary Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley and Gov. Charlie Baker made about the intent to return students to in-person learning five days a week, I have seen some harsh comments, mainly from keyboard warriors, on social media.
I seriously question whether those folks have children or know any teachers because if they did, they wouldn’t call teachers lazy or say they want to continue to work from their couch in their pajamas.
I have friends who are teachers and principals, I have children attending a hybrid model school and my husband is a teacher. I have seen comments that if teachers can shop at Walmart and “go to Florida,” then they can return to their classrooms. My first thought was that the person/people who wrote that do not realize there is a huge difference between being in a room with 24 kids all day and getting groceries or clothes or household necessities at Walmart where you are constantly moving and can keep your distance and even when shopping slowly because it’s your only alone time (not that I’m speaking from experience LOL), a trip to a store is not a six-hour event. School, however, is six hours mostly in one room with the same students. And the Florida comment, well, I won’t even write my thoughts on that one.
All the teachers and principals and parents that I know want children in school buildings full time. The teachers I know are anything but lazy and none that I know personally are sitting on their couch all day.
My children’s teachers are trying their best to teach students via zoom when not in the classroom, some days they have two cohorts at once. They are fielding questions and teaching lessons the best they can. And they are sending assignments throughout the day, checking in with kids and emailing parents.
As a parent trying to work remotely when my kids are learning remotely, I appreciate the effort of teachers to engage students online and keep them on track, as I try to do in between writing and editing and zoom meetings and phone calls.
It’s not easy.
When I mentioned to my children that I had seen these negative comments, they were in disbelief. “Teachers are working more now!” exclaimed my 10-year-old.
My husband teaches in person every day and has a few remote students that he also teaches at the same time. He has to engage both sets of students simultaneously.
It’s not easy.
And as much as I want my children back in school full time, I don’t see how it will happen across the state in just six weeks. I don’t see how they will all fit back in their classrooms. Riley said DESE guidance recommends a distance of 3-6 feet. The CDC recommends 6 feet and so does the state. Even at 3 feet I don’t think many schools can accommodate students full time. I can’t imagine how school administrators will make this happen and my hat’s off to them.
It isn’t easy.
Baker included teachers in the next vaccine phase, but it’s nearly impossible to get an appointment right now. These trying times continue and evolve and our children keep rolling with the changes. It is taking a toll. Many children are suffering both academically and emotionally/mentally. And while there are students who are thriving remotely, there are more who are not. And us parents are not okay, either. Juggling full time jobs, staying on top of remote learning – serving as teacher assistant in some cases, especially with younger children – being the chef, groundskeeper and activities coordinator . . . it’s not easy.
My family is lucky that my children’s school already had a plan in place to bring all students back. It definitely takes some creative thinking on the part of administrators and teachers, and flexibility from everyone. But, it needs to happen and as we have for nearly a year, we will do this, together.