As the conversations about schools reopening for the 2020-21 school year rage on in the United States, more and more educators are sharing their two cents on whether classes should resume. Sarah F., a middle school teacher who specialises in special education, recently highlighted the dangers of returning to in-person instruction as well as the pitfalls of virtual learning in a social media post. Given her concerns about expressing these opinions openly for fear of losing her job, she wishes to maintain her privacy.
"This is a lose/lose situation anyway you look it," she wrote. "Returning to the classroom is dangerous . . . but we KNOW kids rely on school for social/emotional education/support, food, safety, academics, love, and a host of other things. We are educators - it's what we do!"
With that being said, Sarah is well aware that virtual learning doesn't work for everyone — particularly students with special needs. Ultimately, she doesn't see how teachers can succeed at all in the new school year from both education and health and safety perspectives.
"Some sort of hybrid model of in-person and virtual learning is a disaster of logistics for everyone. The schools, parents, daycares, teachers and kids. And you KNOW no one is planning on increasing the funding for schools to help with coordinating any of this or making it easier or safer," explained Sarah. "Teachers are going to see their workload double or triple to pull this off with zero additional compensation. And teachers already aren't paid what we're worth or respected by society. So, I'm sorry I'm not killing myself to do two jobs for the price of one."
"I am so sick of being expected to be some sort of martyr because I decided to be a teacher."
Additionally, Sarah speculated on the various issues that would arise if a child or educator is exposed to COVID-19. In short, it would be a disaster.
"Thinking about what happens when a kid or a teacher is exposed to COVID is to go down a very deep, very dark rabbit hole of possibilities," she shared. "Not enough subs. Who has to quarantine and for how long? I've been told in my district we can use our sick leave or FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) if we have to be out. Well, after two maternity leaves in the last four years I don't have sick leave. And I'm sorry I didn't plan on a global pandemic when I decided to have kids. And FMLA won't pay me. So I'm just supposed to not get paid if I'm exposed?"
Although Sarah loves her job and her school district, she never agreed to risk her family's safety during a global pandemic. "I am so sick of being expected to be some sort of martyr because I decided to be a teacher," she wrote.
Sarah also shared that she feels the US didn't have to be in this position. But between a disorganised federal response to the pandemic and controversy around mask-wearing and social-distancing measures, teachers are in an incredibly difficult position as they're expected to go back to work amid an ongoing health crisis.
"This country's sick obsession with wealth over lives gets people killed," she wrote. "Teachers are going to die. Students are going to die. So when do we decide how many [deaths] will be enough before we back pedal? I love teaching. I love my students. But guess what? I don't love my students or teaching more than I love my own kids or the rest of my family or my own life. I will not [sacrifice] myself and I won't feel guilty. I also don't plan on stepping off of my soap box any time soon. I will be angry about this for a long, long time."