Being a high school teacher during COVID-19 | Global Sisters Report

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My shoes and glasses, as well as my school keys and documents, are in the plastic trash can in the garage. My reusable lunch bag has been replaced by a disposable kraft paper bag. I wear the community pendant for more than 30 years and sit on my dressing table next to my unworn watch. I entered the back door of the house and continued two steps forward, directly to the basement, where I took off, washed my hands and face in the fixed bathtub, and then went back upstairs to take a shower. This is the end of a new day in my life. I am a teacher in the COVID-19 era.

Since our school closed on March 16, 2020, my school administration team has been working hard to develop a reopening plan for our students and staff. The health and safety of everyone is the driving force behind the plan, so unless we are as safe as possible, we will not reopen. The entire building has been disinfected, atomized and ozone treated. Fast forward to the 2020-2021 school year-no one needs temperature and symptom checks every time they enter the building. Masks are not transferable. Each teacher is equipped with gloves, rags and a bottle of detergent on each surface after each class. The tables have been replaced by tables that must face the same direction; all extra furniture and personal touches have been stored.

Returning to school requires approval of a 30-page plan, which has been submitted to our local health department. It includes procedures and procedures for screening, cleaning, movement of the entire building, catering services, ventilation, physical evacuation, exposure or positive testing.

Our school information system has developed a daily symptom checker and contact tracking report in case of contact. We have a special COVID-19 phone number to report symptoms, exposure and positive test results, which must then be reported to the local health department. Every adult has received training on cleaning protocols, and every student has received training on what the "new school" looks like.

According to the law, we must provide 100% virtual teaching options, and about one-third of families choose this method. The remaining students are divided into two queues according to their last names. Our 1,000 buildings in Xixitling are usually very quiet and can only accommodate 250 people at a time. Each teacher teaches three times in each part of the class: AK in the same class, LZ in the same class and virtual peers.

When students enter the classroom, they wash their hands or use hand sanitizer every time. Industrial fans hum to maintain air circulation. Colored tape covers the floor and helps physical distance. Stagger the time of class/get out of class to limit the number of people in the corridor at a time.

Every student comes to our building twice a week, and the first half of the class is longer than usual. A few days ago, they went to school elsewhere, hoping to be at home, sometimes virtually connected, and sometimes working independently. Office hours are reserved in the afternoon and late Friday for students who need additional guidance or assistance. On Fridays, there is also time for staff meetings and teacher planning.

I have learned more about Zoom than ever before: how to create a video of a presentation video in an empty classroom, and how to use a cumbersome smart board that can only be used when it feels right. I am exploring available online resources and evaluating content that may be helpful to my students. Each of my classes has a chat room where students can ask questions and help each other, just like when we can be together.

COVID-19 is still very

: The positive rate in my area is four times the acceptable level. We must be ready to switch to 100% virtual teaching for the entire school. This means finding a space that can be enlarged, keeping all the teaching materials at home, and maybe there are many other things I haven't thought of yet.

Teaching in this way is definitely more difficult. I like the interaction and vitality in the classroom. I like being able to read the faces of students to see if what we are doing makes sense. I hope to be able to answer questions in real time. I like to be able to use all my classroom "toys" and apply theory to practice. Since the weekly contact time is limited to one hour-and the distance is at least 6 feet away, there is almost no other time except for speech 

And hope to understand.

Also, I check the mental health of everyone. The month after month that I refuse to call the "new normal" has caused social and emotional losses, which is especially difficult for young people. Although adults miss daily activities and routine activities, including some very important activities and routine activities, we have more coping skills than children and adolescents. I watched my students mourn the so many passing ceremonies brought by high school-activities and events that couldn't be completed virtually.

Yes, we will still have a "spiritual week", but there will not be any gatherings to see which teacher/administrator will get new compliments for the student fundraising event. Graduation is likely to become a movie-style movie again, and every family watches pre-recorded videos of honors and good wishes in the car, because the staff wearing masks and gloves will provide tight diplomas.

Throughout the school year, I found myself wondering how I would respond if I was exposed to the virus and forced to quarantine. Will I blame me? Will I waste energy trying to figure out "who did this to me", or will I accept the quarantine zone to remember that this is to ensure people's safety and health? I don't know, hope I don't know.

I also want to know that I am infected! Even with all the safety procedures in place, there are only a few hundred people a day, which makes my risk of contracting COVID-19 higher than average. There are many horror stories about the impact of this disease on the human body and spirit, and many general unknowns about this disease and its long-term effects. That is not a comfortable living space for me.

Good-hearted people told me that I need to believe in God. easy to say, hard to do. But with a face mask and mask, gloves and a bottle of detergent, and the risks of exposure and illness, I returned to the classroom. I go back every day because I am a teacher. I am a teacher who happens to be in the COVID-19 era.

[Jane Marie Bradish is a member of the sisters of St. Francis School in Milwaukee. Her department has been receiving secondary education. Currently, she teaches theology and is an academic programmer at a large urban multicultural high school. ]

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