Yesterday, I administered a survey to my members (members of our local KEA affiliate, the Lawrence County Organization of Teachers, which represents the largest percentage of educators in our district). The survey asked teachers how they feel about returning to in-person instruction, KEA’s recent recommendations for re-opening Kentucky schools, and their concerns about student health & safety.
The results show the majority of our KEA affiliated members being wholeheartedly in favor of re-opening our schools, provided a complete health and safety plan is completed and then implemented with fidelity. Of course, with the governor’s order postponing in-person instruction until September 28 for all schools, our collective desire has been put on hold.
Regardless, I am proud of my members, who have wrestled with these often competing issues of the education, mental health, and safety of our students here in Lawrence County. They want to return to the classroom, provided it is truly safe to do so–and that includes having the best school re-opening plan in the state of Kentucky, one that is as “pandemic-proof” as possible.
My personal reactions to the governor’s current order are mixed. First and foremost, I am disappointed; I am classroom teacher: I love being in the classroom, interacting with students, transitioning between different phases of instruction, trying different strategies to engage different students, and just being in school. Taking the good with the bad, I prefer face-to-face teaching and learning over at-home NTI. All teachers realize what a hardship at-home learning often is for students and their parents, as well; we know that, for most students, being in school is better for them.
Of course, we aren’t in normal circumstances. We are in a global pandemic, and the landscape keeps shifting. A couple of months ago, the consensus seemed to be that young people didn’t come down with or even carry the virus; now, however, it appears that those early predictions were too optimistic. It is frustrating how the science keeps changing in real time, but we can see the evidence of truth in places like Georgia and Indiana, where schools are having to close already and/or quarantine students and staff members for days on end.
There are no easy answers here. The only positive I can put on it is this: we now have an additional month to pandemic-proof LC schools for our students and their families. I only hope we are allowed to make that decision when this period of time is over.