Tyler is a senior in his third year of journalism. He enjoys swimming, the outdoors, and video games.
Staff Struggle with Going Hybrid
November 12, 2020
While teachers might have been excited to see students roaming the halls again when the hybrid learning format began on Nov. 5, some say they feel that having students onsite does come at a price. Not surprisingly, the most significant issue is the health concerns associated with having students in close quarters. So while some teachers are pleased about the switch to hybrid, others are also experiencing worry and frustration.
Some staff members have health issues which put them in the immunocompromised category, or live with family members who are immunocompromised and therefore, at higher risk of either contracting Covid or having complications if they get the virus. For these teachers especially, the increased risk of catching the virus is a definite concern.
For example, FCHS Government teacher Mitchell Pace believes the School Board was “short-sighted in their decision to bring students into the building. Their purpose as a board is the children (including their health as well as their education), and the safety of the school staff too.”
Another aspect of going hybrid that is concerning some teachers is the inconsistencies and complexities of having to conduct multiple modes of teaching at the same time, as well as dealing with major schedule changes mid-semester. On the timing of this decision, Pace said “As COVID surges, I do not feel now is the best time to make the change, especially when teachers and students were finally finding their groove in the virtual setting.”
Other teachers have expressed frustration with finding the time and ability to provide the same resources to all students, especially now that some students are in person different days of the week, some students remain 100% virtual, and some still have inconsistent internet access and must access work through flash drives which require teachers to spend a significant amount of time modifying instruction to accommodate just a few students.
Similarly, having students in the room to work with means that many teachers are now finding that they have less time to plan or meet with students to provide one-on-one instruction or discuss things, like low grades, which require confidentiality.
Still, despite the unease raised by having students come back into the building, bringing back a sense of normalcy in these times is appreciated by many staff members. “I am very much looking forward to seeing students in my classroom seats again, and establishing that immeasurable in-person relationship,” said Pace.
Meanwhile, the school is taking precautions to maximize the safety of the teacher and students. “The custodial and maintenance staff are working very hard to keep everything sanitized, which is in addition to their other essential duties,” said English teacher Chris Zema.
And of course, there are some things that teachers can do– as with everyone– to reduce their chances of contracting Covid-19. FCHS chemistry teacher Carolynne Hagan says, “I am a fervent mask wearer. Compliance with that simple action is very important. If that doesn’t happen, the risk to our immunocompromised teachers will be great.”
For those staff members who have significant health concerns, the school has allowed them to teach virtually. This means The teachers continue to teach their students through Google classroom from an alternate location while their hybrid students spend their in-school days in a computer lab.
Despite the complications, Zema says that “school counseling and Administration have done a great job with scheduling. He also notes the importance of staff members taking care of themselves and having a positive attitude. “I am trying to be diligent about getting plenty of sleep, spending time outside when I can, using hand sanitizer, and not touching my face needlessly. I struggle with letting the busyness of the day get in the way of these essential practices,” he said, ‘[but] I need to be more intentional about taking time throughout the day to refocus and look at the big picture.”