As if teaching wasn’t challenging enough, educators around the world have faced unprecedented obstacles since the Covid-19 pandemic first swept the globe in early 2020. From racing to set up classroom technology and creating digital lesson plans with only a moment’s notice to addressing food insecurity, internet access, mental health, and skyrocketing absenteeism, teachers have gone above and beyond to make sure that all of the needs of their students are being met.
And while two school years have already been affected by this pandemic, teacher concerns remain high for the next school year that is set to start in just a few short months.
Aside from the significant learning loss that teachers will have to tackle this coming fall, the health and safety concerns of both educators and students are still front and center in their minds. And growing pandemic burnout and complacency certainly won’t make their situations any better.
To stay safe, experts recommend social distancing with a minimum of 6 ft between individuals, correct mask usage, approved sanitation practices, and vaccination for Covid-19. But in many school settings, following these recommendations to a tee proves to be anything but easy.
Many school buildings around the country are old and outdated, needing expensive ventilation upgrades, and lacking the room necessary to properly space out student desks. Add in the teacher shortage, which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic, and many educators are worried that this year will mean even larger class sizes with students being packed into classrooms without the proper ventilation.
And as more parents attend school board meetings demanding that their children not be required to wear masks or be vaccinated, it may be only a matter of time before classrooms are full of unmasked, unvaccinated children.
While 80% of the country’s teachers have now been vaccinated themselves, there’s still a huge cause for concern. Many of the vaccinated teachers continue to be worried about spreading the virus to their family members at home and about being exposed to potential variants in the future that they may not be protected from. Plus, many other teachers remain unvaccinated, whether due to personal choice or health conditions, leaving them more vulnerable to infection and more likely to spread the virus to others.
Add in the fact that teachers in the United States are often forced to buy their own school supplies due to budget cuts, which now includes personal protection equipment, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes for their classrooms, it’s no wonder educators are now facing increasing mental health issues and job burnout of their own.
So as infection rates begin to climb in areas where vaccination rates are low and vaccination rates seem to be stalled in many states, teacher concerns remain high for the coming school year. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a country to educate them. We are all in this together and working together we can get our kids back no track to a solid education.