Blog Post

Pandemic Pedagogy

Last week, I went by my school and cleaned out my classroom. Many of the nontenured teachers were not rehired back for next school year. I was nervous going to my school. I hadn't been back to school since mid-March. California went on shelter-in-place and we received notice. All my little knickknacks were on the kidney table. My students' artwork was posted proudly around my classroom, and there were some new spiders that made their webs while we were away.

As I pulled up to school, I signed in at a table with my own pen. I had my mask on. I was glad to see that a sign was in front ot the school saying that we are to wear masks. However, as I walked into the office I noticed that some of our school staff didn't have mask on. Feeling awkward, I distanced myself. I didn't want to seem impolite. However, I did have a doctor's note that I am at higher risk of complications if exposed to Coronavirus. I gave them the note before. Alas, no one seemed concerned. I kept wearing my masks, sunglasses, and gloves and went down the hall. 

I heard laugher as I turned the corner. It was a familiar sound of the laughter of children at the playground. I was thankful as I heard the children's laughter. I kept walking and rounded the corner. There was the playground. Children were playing on the monkey bars, slides, and swings. It was like normal. The normal felt normal for a minute. But then I noticed that one of the teachers had his mask pulled down. He was handing out balls to students who had no masks. I looked at the playground again. None of the students had masks. None. 

Summer school for students with special needs and not one student had on a mask? Some of the students are medically fragile. What were they doing? Why wasn't anyone speaking out? What about the science? It was too normal. It was so normal, that I almost felt abnormal for even questioning it.

At our teacher meeting a couple weeks prior admin said, "that only our neediest students would receive ESY (Extended School Year a.k.a. summer school) services. What is going on here? This is a Title 1 School with all students who are free lunch. Why isn't anyone holding schools accountable for safety with regard to Covid-19?

I wonder why OSHA isn't making it a mandate.

Moving forward, I am thankful I have a new job for next year. I will be teaching virtual school. They could only give me 3 years experience credit even thought I have taught 17 years. Many school districts don't want to hire teachers who have more than 5 years experience or they cap the experience levels for teachers who are new to the school district. I am thankful though. I am thankful that I have a job and will get to teach.

As a part of my paperwork, I have to have my doctor sign a Tuberculosis Assessment to give me clearance to work at the virtual school. All teachers have to have a TB clearance from a doctor. Before, I went into education I used to work/intern at a couple of hospitals during the summers I used to want to be a pediatrician. I did research at the James A. Hayley Veteran's Hospital, the University of Miami medical school, and H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center. I also volunteered at Shriner's Hospital.

In the mid-90s, I was exposed to TB and had to take INH. My chest x-ray was clear. However, every time I get a new job teaching I have to get a chest x-ray because I have a skin reaction to the TB test. Why am I writing about this. Well, I suppose it is because nationally all teachers have to be cleared for TB before we are to work with students. However, why isn't anyone ensuring the safety of our students and staff during the pandemic? Who is accountable? It feels like we have to fend for ourselves and teach students the best way we can to protect one another and their families.

When my husband and I go for walks we see so many people not wearing masks. When we turn on the news many of our so-called leaders aren't wearing masks. We have friends that have lost family members to Covid-19. 

Today I went to the doctor's office. I kept postponing my check-ups, but my insurance will be running out again so I needed to go. In the waiting room a woman was wearing her mask below her noise. One of her boys had a mask on and the other toddler quickly took his off. I was glad when I got called in to see the doctor. Then when I was leaving the office I went through the waiting room again. The two boys one a toddler and another 6 years old were in the waiting room. The mom left the children there while she was seeing the doctor. The little toddler was an adorable child with big eyes and walked right up to me. He had a big smile. I could tell because he wasn't wearing a  mask. My natural inclination as a teacher is to lean down to a child's eye level and chat with them. However, I reminded myself that things are different. I need to backup. I was cheerful as I backed up doing a little sashey and fluttering my long skirt and titling my head to the side to greet the child. I didn't want to abruptly move away and frighten the child so I was playful as I was trying to social distance. The child wanted to follow me. I reminded the older child to keep doing a good job looking after his brother and said my goodbyes.





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