Here we are in a pandemic. We know what the state, county and city have planned for our schools. We know what the public and private schools have planned.
But what about the teachers themselves? What do they think about distance teaching? Would they rather be back in the classroom? Are they willing to take the risk? What do they think about the plan to test all students and teachers?
But who is willing to talk about it? We had to guarantee anonymity for teachers and the schools in order to get the interviews, and we stick to our promises. What we can tell you is that they work for both public and private schools in the area.
Do they want to be back in the classroom? “I know how important the socialization is for the kids, but this could kill you,” said one public school teacher. From a private school teacher we received the same sentiment. “Of course we do, but it is literally a life and death situation. Part of me would love to go back, but it isn’t just the kids. It is older adults too.” One of the teachers we spoke to is old enough to be defined as “elderly” as defined by the City of Los Angeles parameters of who is at additional risk. Has anybody taken in to account how many of our teachers are in the 55-plus group? We are asking them to be at additional risk by placing them back in school?
One of our interviewees told us, “I tell my kids there are good and bad answers to questions. All the answers are bad right now and all you can do is choose the least bad.” For now, distance learning, cancelling sports and holding meetings via Zoom are the least bad choices.
So we are distance learning for now. Some of the private schools have plans in place to come back just as soon as possible. Some of the public school principals may have that information, but haven’t shared it with staff. LAUSD has plans to test students and teachers. Some private schools plan to take temperatures every day. One of the things they have learned is that as hard as it was to shut down in March, at least the kids had already been with the teachers for a while and understood what was expected. Trying to start a new semester with an all-new group of kids is much more difficult. Computer systems were never meant to handle the volume of students online at the same time.
None of this is easy. Not for the governing bodies, the schools, students, parents or the teachers. What will happen to distance versus in-school learning remains to be seen. Like the rest of the pandemic world, it is one day at a time.
Laura Levinsky is a frequent contributor to Valley News Group and a lifelong resident of the San Fernando Valley.