Teaching through COVID-19

Educators make best of difficult situations

Story by Macy Maynard, staff writer

They anticipated the day for months. Classrooms were clean and organized. Lesson plans were thoughtfully prepared. 

Aug. 19, 2020. The day back to school. All the teachers were ready to be back.

I was nervous and curious as to how it was kind of all playing out,” English teacher Thomas Simon said. “But I was ready to come back and teach, whatever that looked like.”

The virus had affected many teachers — their lives and families. And since the reopening of schools across the United States, some teachers even lost their lives. However, most teachers have not been affected by COVID-19 this year other than taking precautions for themselves and others. 

“It hasn’t affected me,” world geography teacher Aimee Gardner said. “Honestly, I actually don’t know anybody that has gotten it or anything like that, but it does affect daily life, of course, because you have to wear a mask and things like that.” 

The biggest impact for teachers has been how they have handled and organized their classrooms.

“It’s changed my teaching methods considerably because what I do in the classroom I have to mirror virtually, and sometimes that gets tricky,” Simon said. “Virtually, they don’t have me there to ask questions, so they have to get in touch with me. It’s taking a considerable amount of time to make sure that that’s happening to make it fair and balanced.”

Teachers are trying to keep everything as consistent as they can for online school as well as in person schooling. That way, it is fair for everyone and students can get the best education possible.

“I have to make sure that assignments are capable of being done in class as well as remotely, or else I have to modify them, ” Gardener said. “I am very overwhelmed. Because not only do I have students in class, but I have kids that are remote. And so it’s just a lot of new information to take in and then try to make sure that I reach everybody and help anybody that is in my classes, whether in class or remote as much as I can.” 

One big question for all the teachers was how would it affect their family and if they would they give the virus to loved ones. 

“It is a fear,” Simon said. “I do have people in my life who are high-risk, so if I get it, then I could potentially be putting them at risk. I do think about that sometimes, but ultimately, I’m here for you guys. I like my job as a teacher. My purpose of existing is to teach. So, I have to put myself at risk to do that, and I’m willing to do that for the greater good.” 

With safety protocols in place and students adhering to them, fear soon seemed to subside. 

“I felt scared at first, but I saw that students were abiding [by the rules] and being safe about it,”  graphic design teacher Cindy Snell said. “As long as people can social distance as much as possible and use hand sanitizer and follow the rules that we need, we can try our best to stay safe. Fear is not going to keep me back.” 

Schools have taken many safety protocols and standards and have tried to adapt to this as much as possible. 

“We have a lot of really good safety standards in place, not just for the teachers but for the students as well,” Simon said. “We got some really good training and feedback to support us. We have a great administration team that’s supporting us, and I think they’re doing the best they can with a very tricky and difficult situation.”