Are Teacher’s Ready For Going Back To In-Person Teaching?

Aymet Garcia, Author

The beginning of a new school year is always full of emotions, especially during a pandemic. Most schools in Lompoc recently started teaching in classrooms again, whereas others continued distance learning. But,many students are looking forward to seeing their friends and teachers in person again. I asked a few teachers to share how they feel, how their lives have changed, and how they handle these challenges.

I began the interview with a brief check up on the teachers and how they are doing, knowing they’re at risk everyday of Covid-19 at school. Ryan Ostrander, a history teacher at LHS responded with, “I’m doing just fine, I’m not personally worried about my own health at all.  I just don’t want it to spread to too many people in the overall population but personally I’m not stressed at all.’’  I also asked Rachel Andrades, who is a chemistry teacher and her response was quite similar. She states, “I am doing great! I think getting students back in the classroom is more important than worrying about getting COVID-19, but I am also at a lower risk than some teachers. The high school has done a great job taking protocols to help prevent the spread of COVID as well as testing staff bi-weekly to keep track of positive cases.’’ Then when speaking to Kendall Lopez, a Journalism and Communications teacher, she had shared some of the new protocols. She said, “While recognizing the need for extra safety and sanitizing protocols to keep students and staff safe. I do feel that our school site does a super job in maintaining these standards.”

The next question I had asked the teachers was, do you think going back to school was the best option for you? Ostrander then answered by saying,“Yes I think going back to school was the best option. I think the mental and emotional health of students and teachers has been overlooked, and that reopening schools is worth the risk of increased COVID cases.’’ Ostrander felt that opening back up was the best decision for the students and their mental health, whereas Rachel Andrade felt that it was also best for them regarding their motivation. She had said, “I do think going back to school was the best option for me! I missed seeing all my students’ faces and making connections with them in the classroom. I also think students are much more motivated to complete work while they are in person.’’ Similarly to Andrade, Kendal Lopez responded by saying, “Yes I do think coming back was personally right for me as a large part of my job is interacting with students and helping them get involved with the culture of the school.” 

After asking how they felt about their decision to go back, I then asked how they are dealing with social distancing.  Ryan Ostrander said, “I follow social distancing etiquette when in public and when on campus, but I find it ridiculous that we are supposed to wear masks when outside, given that the science suggests the likelihood of contracting COVID outdoors is astronomically low.” When hearing Rachel Andrade’s response she had expressed some of her challenges and how she overcame them. She stated, “Social distance can be difficult when I have a student who talks quietly and I have to get a little closer to hear them. Or when I am trying to help a student with an Ag Mechanics project, I have to stand on the opposite side of the table and do my best to show them the next step. Overall, I don’t think it is that difficult to social distance. I think it is much harder to get students to wear masks properly and can get very stuffy wearing one all day.” More simply, Kendall Lopez expressed that, “I think the past year of practicing social distancing has gone well, and no one really objects to it. Everyone does their part!”

However,  as I concluded the interviews I asked the most curious question of them all:What is your opinion on returning to school? Ostrander’s response was, “My opinion is that we should return to school fully as soon as possible. But we should actually do daily temperature checks like the district had originally stated we would.”Andrade then expressed how much easier it would be to have everyone back full time. She said, “I love that we are back in school, but I do wish we got to see students every day. I think most students think they don’t have to do the work on their asynchronous days. It is also so much easier to hold students accountable when I am able to see them every day in person.” Nonetheless Lopez felt very similar to Andrade. She also responded by saying,  “I am very happy to return to school and see students’ faces that chose to come back as well. I am glad there are options for all students and their families as we navigate through these times of uncertainty. I think this year has given us the opportunity to explore various forms of education that fit many families’ needs for the future. While it may not be the right time for all students to come back, we are still all in this together!’’

As I combined these three teachers’ responses , I could clearly depict that these teachers are happy with their choices and are very excited about returning back to school to see their students. Most of them felt comfortable with the new rules and expectations, but of course they all have their separate opinions on safety, normalcy, and what they miss. However, what they want in the end is all the same and that is to have a safe and successful 2021-2022 school year.