Pandemic Apprenticeship Yr Three – How Are You?
In March, towards the end of 2019-2020, schools had to close due to the pandemic. We hoped the summer would calm things down, but then 2020-2021 started with school closings in most areas. In the months that followed, we went through a roller coaster ride of openings and closings, masking and social distancing guidelines, and endless quarantines.
We endured all of this while holding on to hope that things would get brighter for the 2021-2022 school year. Here, however, we are faced with even more uncertainty. Worst of all, we don’t navigate the same rough waters. Some states have mask mandates while others have banned them. Some districts are closely following the delta variant, while others are ignoring it. We are now officially going into pandemic year three for schools.
An experienced teacher shares his thoughts
This is the 18th year in veteran teacher Larry Ferlazzo’s classroom. It’s also his third year of apprenticeship during a pandemic. In a recent article, he shared his greatest fears about the months ahead. He based his concerns on what he learned from media reports, conversations with fellow teachers across the country, and his own experiences in the field.
In short, Ferlazzo is concerned about:
- The mental health of the students and the lack of resources to support them.
- The physical and economic health of the students. When are younger children eligible for the vaccine? Are their families threatened with eviction?
- A failure to provide high quality distance learning options for students who need them.
- Poor decision-making among district leaders who believe they are “the smartest people in the room.”
- Teachers struggling to find ways to connect students and teach effectively who all have equipment in the classroom.
- How the attack on teaching about systemic racism could result in teachers continuing to avoid the subject in their classrooms.
- Outreach efforts to connect with students who disappeared from class lists in the final school year.
We surveyed our own community of teachers to see how everyone is feeling right now when they start their third year of pandemic class. Here are some of the concerns they raised:
You are afraid of the virus
“1. Children get sick. 2. Breakthrough diseases (variants that bypass the vaccine). 3. NO shutdown due to political pressure, even if our numbers are back where they were. 4. Requiring teachers to “do anything”. —Kimberly Allard
“The fact that people don’t get vaccinated, don’t wear masks, that in a classroom of 25 there’s no way to socialize … the number of people who ignore how their decisions affect others.” —Megan Benton
“Students get sick. A return to virtual teaching when people continue to be selfish. I’ve been really good at virtual teaching for a long time. I enjoyed learning new technologies! But by the end of the year I was so exhausted, I can’t imagine how people who weren’t happy with it from the start survived. ”—JoJo Mahreeno
They fear for their own health
“Exhaustion.” —Jean Vadeboncoeur
“Too little recovery time when school starts.” —Kristall Kennedich
“To be unable to maintain my own mental health in another challenging year. Last year has been tough, I can’t do it again. ”—Ashley Collins
“To get Covid, attack my only kidney and get dialysis.” —Tracy Lynn
They fear school closings and virtual learning
“Closing again and children continue to lose academic and social skills. We have been back for a week and it is very clear that the last year and a half has had a huge impact on academic and social skills. These kids should be seventh graders, but are fifth graders academically and socially. ”- Jamie Lea Shepard Anglen.
“Zoom Lessons Without Forcing Cameras.” —Karen Ausdenmoore Grumski
They fear for the education of their students
“1) Had to go back to at the same time. 2) Another year with no real labs due to safety concerns. 😭 3) You have to worry about teacher ratings with all of this. ”—Christina Gritton Kizelewicz
“In addition to personal health and safety, I pray to God that we don’t have to teach kids in the room and kids in zoom at the same time. It was especially bad when we went back to school full-time, but there was a remote option and the kids came and went from remote learning, sometimes just because they felt like it, not because they were completely remote or it had to quarantine. “- Kendra Norman
You fear the verdict
“I fear everyone’s opinions…” —Nicia Cook
They are afraid for their family
“My little one is on oxygen (3 months old). He will start the day care center and I will start a new job as a teacher in MH classes 3-5. My biggest fear right now is bringing home EVERY respiratory disease and the fact that it’s a new grade and school and MH doesn’t have a curriculum. ”—Robin Gardner
“I’m missing my time because of work and the possibility of each of us being exposed and quarantined without pay.” —Ruthie Baumann Vega
They fear mask mandates
“We may have to mask that all year round 😥” —Barbara Ballard Flouton
And above all they fear …
“That this madness will never end.” —Stephanie McJunkin