At the beginning of the Coronavirus, pandemic parents had the chance to experience the joys and trials of homeschooling their children. As each day went on, teachers dished out practical assignments for scholars and parents to complete to continue educating young minds. And with every passing moment of parents telling their students to read the directions, stay focused, pay attention, or yelling get off Youtube, a newfound respect and appreciation suddenly came about for educators.
As the school year came to an end, everyone was thankful and released a long-awaited sigh of relief to have crossed the finish line and look ahead to summer break. For a few weeks, there would be no more Zoom calls, Google Hang out sessions, submitting assignments in Google Classroom, or uploading a snapshot of work from a phone.
While many enjoy the relaxation of summer break, government officials, school board members, and district leaders are deciding how to conduct the school year. As time passes, it seems that the decision to return to the classroom amid the pandemic is one that considers students and parents. But what about the teachers? There have been many suggestions on how many students should be in a classroom, how to socially distance themselves during school, and a mandate for everyone to wear masks.
These suggestions were given under the premise that all children are well behaved at all times, they won’t have the desire to socialize with their peers, each child will and can wear a mask all day, and the cold and flu season will no longer exist. In other words, the suggestions given considered the safety of students and the desire to have them in school to receive their education; however, these suggestions did not take into consideration the actual art of classroom instruction and everything it entails for a teacher; not to mention the health and safety of teachers.
With every proposal drafted, there has been a lack of attention on the needs of educators who work tirelessly to plan and implement lessons for students from all walks of life. How is it that we go from an overwhelming amount of teacher appreciation to disregard for them within months?
There are so many unanswered questions teachers have regarding their health and safety upon the possibility of a full-time or part-time return to the classroom. I am sure another concern is how teachers will teach with energy and enthusiasm needed with masks on and having to stop to remind students to implement safety measures continually. While educators understand the need for their presence in the classroom and the necessity of parents going back to work to provide for their families, what lacks in understanding is why aren’t educators being considered or protected in drafting plans as much as everyone else.
It’s not enough they often deal with overcrowded classrooms and minimal supplies to keep students engaged in lessons, amongst other things, but now teachers have to face the possibility of teaching in-person and virtually while adding COVID safety measures into classroom management procedures. The lack of value of educators is an issue that must be taken into consideration with actions to forge change to genuinely show teachers they are appreciated for molding the minds and careers of the countries, future leaders.
Think about it: a fight breaks out in a classroom. What steps does the teacher take to diffuse the situation while trying to keep a mask on, maintain social distancing, and keep other students safe?
Think about it: a student has a fever or does not feel well during the middle of the school day. Office staff contacts a parent or guardian to take the child home, but no one can come to their aid because they are working.
Think about it: what happens if a teacher tests positive for the Coronavirus? They must quarantine for fourteen days. While in quarantine, are they required to submit virtual lesson plans or teach remotely if they are up to it? If they must be off work, will they be required to use accumulated or allotted time off? What if they do not have enough time to cover quarantine?
There are so many things that must be addressed to ensure teachers’ well-being is implemented with the same drive and passion being used to get kids back in school. If we never realized it, teachers are essential workers who fight a different fight and should be valued at a higher standard than they are. They play several different roles, but only get paid for one. The least the world can do is make proper plans for re-entry into the classroom for the classroom leaders.
Liz Lampkin is an author, speaker, and lifestyle writer. You can find her on social media @LizLampkin