Teachers Discuss Views On In-person School

Jennifer Holman (left) and Jacqueline Lindner (right), teachers at MHS, dress up for December to Remember spirit week.

Media by Richard Regina

Jennifer Holman (left) and Jacqueline Lindner (right), teachers at MHS, dress up for “December to Remember” spirit week.

When Jane Doe, teacher at MHS, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, first thought of the 2020-2021 school year, she felt excitement, optimism and eagerness to return. 

But now, she feels mixed emotions of sadness, small amounts of anger and a large amount of fear and overall confusion.

This year, Doe had to consider her financial situation versus the health of her family and herself. 

“I enjoy my position as a teacher and did not want to let down my students or place an extra burden on my co-workers,” Doe said. “I am aware that there is a chance, even with all the PPE, I am still in jeopardy and so is my family.” 

Even with the financial burden, Doe is considering taking a leave of absence to protect her family and herself. 

Doe said her school days are stressful and having to manage students at home through Zoom and Canvas is ineffective and not enjoyable. 

“I always feel like I am minimally reaching students,” Doe said. “It is like two different classes in the same room. I am always neglecting one or the other.”

I am aware that there is a chance, even with all the PPE, I am still in jeopardy and so is my family.

— Jane Doe, teacher at MHS

Doe said at the high school level, all students could be provided through the virtual system. 

“I am disappointed that we are in person when neighboring school districts are virtual,” Doe said.“The fact that some students get a meager amount of time with classmates at a distance does not validate the need to open the building and expose all to a possible life-threatening virus.” 

Doe is also disappointed with the administration in their decisions for this year.

“While students have a choice, teachers do not have the option of virtual or in person,” Doe said. “To lose pay or a job during this time is not an option.” 

While retirement rates haven’t significantly increased, teachers with pre-existing health conditions have retired early, said Keith Klusmeyer, Investment Advisor Representative. 

“What is different is the level of unknown and the fear related, of course, to the pandemic.  I believe that most educators look at this situation with hope that this is indeed a temporary situation,” Klusmeyer said. 

However, Jason Winter, music teacher, said RSD is doing its best to provide opportunities for teachers and students. 

“All of us have had our struggles and my focus is to try to find the positive opportunities for growth for my students and myself even though we are going through tough times,” Winter said.

Winter said he had great expectations for this year and that he still maintains those expectations but they just look a little different.

Due to the guidelines for singing, the class can only sing for about 30 minutes in a 90-minute period. The class also has to switch spaces in order for the air conditioning to clean out. 

Winter said it does present its challenges and it is hard to expect students to make the switch quickly.

“It’s exhausting too because you want to be your best for all of the students but it’s hard to feel that way when students are in different locations and trying to do multiple things at the same time,” Winter said. 

Overall, Winter said he is thankful RSD has chosen to not follow the guidelines presented by the governor but to stick to the guidelines by the CDC which includes contact tracing and mandatory masks. 

“It does show that RSD is committed to the safety of our students, staff and families of both,” Winter said. 

Each kid is wired differently. Some couldn’t be successful in a virtual classroom and needed that interaction with their teachers.

— Principal Dr. Steve Hankins

Principal Dr. Steve Hankins said the administration is trying its best to make everyone comfortable during this tough time.

“Each kid is wired differently,” Dr. Hankins said. “Some couldn’t be successful in a virtual classroom and needed that interaction with their teachers.”

To help with the stress on teachers with multitasking, RSD will offer the opportunity for teachers to have complete asynchronous learning for online students second semester instead of the current model of teaching in person and online simultaneously. 

MHS administration has also been trying to increase morale for teachers and students 

“The administration has been doing its best to say our words of appreciation for our teachers and has also been doing a few fun activities,” Dr. Hankins said. 

MHS has done “December to Remember” spirit weeks, “staff lunch-in” and is ordering all food from local businesses to support them. 

Dr. Hankins also said he is trying his best to be understanding and truthful toward teachers as there are some things he can’t control. 

“My advice to the teachers is that you can do hard things. I’ve seen you do incredibly hard things and you’ve done it well,” Dr. Hankins said. “You are tough and resilient and we will get through it and will be better for it.”