For many, it’s been a burden. For others, it’s the new normal.
As we head back into the new school year after an 18-month intermission, Jordan High School students and teachers adapt to safety measures set by the school and community. Students have felt the presence of the masks, air purifiers, and even the school picnic tables put out by the administration in hopes of increasing social distancing and airflow. But arguably the most impacted group so far is our beloved teachers. Not only are they responsible for enforcing mandates on students, but they’ve also had to ensure their own health and safety.
According to Ms. Learned, Jordan High School art teacher, telling students to pull up their masks can be tiring:
“I feel like in my room at least, we are doing all that we can- keeping masks on, everyone remaining in their seats, and encouraging people to use hand sanitizer as they enter and leave the room. Besides that, if students are taking advantage of our outdoor spaces for lunch, they shouldn’t be too worried. I see students keep their masks outside even. It seems like students are being smart and doing a good job. My only worry is the students who float amongst multiple groups of people who are eating and/or just talking and not keeping their masks up.”
Conversing with teachers about the implications of COVID safety, I’ve come to understand that a newfound appreciation for the administration has also been realized. “I really feel for the administration because they have to spend so much of their day doing contact tracing and doing COVID related stuff that they can’t do their job the way that they would want to, and I really worry about burnout for them,” said Mr. Albright.
Mr. Albright seemed to carry an optimistic yet sympathetic display for the current situation that we’re all going through. Transitioning from a far-from-normal year to a slightly more normal year has had its advantages and disadvantages.
Digging deeper into the situation, Mr. Albright revealed his hopes and appreciations:
“It’s a weird year and I wouldn’t be completely opposed to having a week of asynchronous right around the holidays. I feel like that might not be a bad idea. I wish we could revisit the idea of a Wellness Wednesday, I feel like that would be helpful in the midst of all this stuff. But, in general, I just want it to be normal. Anytime we’re doing a normal activity in class, I really appreciate that.”
When asked if he wanted Wellness Wednesdays because of COVID safety or for a mental health break, Mr. Albright had this to say:
“I think it’s a mental health issue… I understand we’re not on zoom anymore, but I think we should have some kind of acknowledgment of the mental health toll that this is taking and we need to discuss that from time to time, while also acknowledging that having an off-day on Wednesday would be a burden on families. So, I see both sides of it.”
After hearing Mr. Albright’s thoughts, I next interviewed Ms. Stacy, Jordan’s Librarian. She emphasized the importance of hand sanitizer:
“I wish that I were able to get away and wash my hands more often and I wonder if others – students, teachers, and administration – feel the same way. It’s such an important part of being safe during these times (well, really any time it’s a good idea to wash hands frequently).” On behalf of the students, I wish that we were provided more flexibility in taking time to wash our hands and take private mask breaks.
On that important note, I leave you to remember to check up on your teachers and administrations. Whether making sure you’re doing your best in protecting yourself and others around you or just providing a simple thanks, it can go a long way in these stressful times.