American society is having an important debate over schools. Parents, kids, teachers, and government officials are trying to decide when to open, how to open, and if they should open at all.
These talks were only intensified when a suburban Atlanta county opened its schools amid controversy and a growing case count, giving a preview of how difficult the school season could be. A week later, nearly 1,200 students and staff members in the district were ordered to quarantine. On Tuesday, one high school closed its doors until at least August 31. A second followed on Wednesday.
In the midst of it all, teachers all over the country started posting photos of what in-person learning looks like from their point of view, asking everyone to consider their perspective as well. I think we can all agree that it's only fair, right? Continue scrolling to check them out.
No playing. Masks all day. Six feet apart at all times.
School seems like a frightening place, when you read about all the safety measures kids will have to adhere to this year.
Thankfully, there are educators, like Jennifer Birch Pierson, a Kindergarten teacher from Texas, who are making lemonade from some very sour lemons and making their classrooms as welcoming and comforting as possible for our littlest learners.
Check out how she set up her classroom desks to look like a bunch of trucks on the road. She even makes the required desk shields look like windshields.
Those students who enter her classroom may have a tough time, but clearly they are in the hands of a caring teacher, and that's something all parents can be grateful for.
Thank you to the teachers, who, like Ms. Pierson, are doing all they can and more to make our kids feel safe and happy.
Scott Nelson, a professor who teaches US history at the University of Georgia, shared a picture of himself standing behind a plexiglass shield that was just installed in every classroom in the university. The snap, showing Nelson towering over the glass that can reach neither his mouth nor his chin, seems like a really good representation of the current chaos within the education system.
"I taught in Virginia for 20 years before I came here, so am adjusting since I moved to UGA 4 years ago," Nelson told Bored Panda. "The administration appears to be controlled in Atlanta by a group of the Governor's appointees who have no experience with education. They've decided unilaterally that all schools will remain open. I assume once the infection rates and death rates become embarrassing then they'll stop. The faculty and staff appear to have no say in anything that happens on campus. Years ago, I worked for a Waldenbooks where we received orders every morning through the cash register. The administration seems like that."
Last month, the professor found out that he could teach online but most of his colleagues can't. "I'm gearing up to teach on Twitch and Zoom. There have been 4 COVID outbreaks on the South campus, so I'm not in my office much. I mostly work and write (and will now teach) at home. But I'm freaked out about my students, colleagues, and other staff members given the insanely high COVID rates in the state."
"COVID-19 has everyone freaked out, and I get that and recognize that things have to return to normal at some point. But many of my friends who are professors and faculty in the health sciences at UGA (which is amazing) say that the university administration has done a horrible job preparing." Nelson said the county school system in town is advised by the UGA faculty in public health. "They are doing distance learning. But the university wants to hear nothing from the public health faculty because they think they have it all figured out."
Gina Clayton-Tarvin, the President of Ocean View School District, said that COVID-19 has affected her as well, just like all human beings worldwide, adding that we are all just trying to stay healthy and alive. "I'm disappointed in our nation's response to the pandemic and look forward to change. My job has been moved completely online and I've been teaching remotely (and live) for months to my students."
Clayton-Tarvin's main source of inspiration that helps her to get through this difficult period is the children. "I want other parents to see that there are elected school board members out there that care and frankly, have the ability to get off their rear ends and buy safety equipment." She urged everyone to stop saying the money doesn't exist and go find it. "Demand accountability from your state and national leaders. No safety equals no school. Redress is critical, demand your child's safety."
"Can you believe we even have to answer this question?" Clayton-Tarvin wondered. "The reality is that until it is safe to come back to school in CA, and we are off the 'Watch List,' my commitment is to stay all virtual, even though CA allows waivers for K-6. Let's look to other nations that have brought kids back to school safely and learn from them. Americans are typically the most innovative leaders on tough issues facing our world, but at this, we have failed. Time to pull up our bootstraps, USA, and get to work, our kids are counting on us!"
The CDC, on the other hand, released a statement, arguing for in-person learning. "Schools are an important part of the infrastructure of our communities, as they provide safe, supportive learning environments for students, employ teachers and other staff, and enable parents, guardians, and caregivers to work," the organization wrote. "Schools also provide critical services that help meet the needs of children and families, especially those who are disadvantaged, through supporting the development of social and emotional skills, creating a safe environment for learning, identifying and addressing neglect and abuse, fulfilling nutritional needs, and facilitating physical activity."
"School closure disrupts the delivery of in-person instruction and critical services to children and families, which has negative individual and societal ramifications. The best available evidence from countries that have opened schools indicates that COVID-19 poses low risks to school-aged children, at least in areas with low community transmission, and suggests that children are unlikely to be major drivers of the spread of the virus. Reopening schools creates the opportunity to invest in the education, well-being, and future of one of America’s greatest assets—our children—while taking every precaution to protect students, teachers, staff, and all their families."
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.
My “classroom”—teaching third grade in the chapel this year. Lucky to at least be able to distance the kids. Weird time to be an educator.
My very depressing music classroom for up to 10 kids with Additional Support Needs.....Yes, a music room....and still expected to teach music.