*

Samantha Jones

Sam's Notebook

Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com.

Opinion

Thank you for teaching

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Next Monday is a big day for Carroll County parents, children and educators. Itís the first day that teachers will see their students in more than five months after in-person instruction halted in the spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Itís as exciting as it is scary for our local teachers, who have had to completely change the way they work to ensure safety for everyone.

My husband, Gideon, briefed me on some of these changes a couple of weeks ago when he got home from his first few days of teacher in-service. Gideon said he will be working with students in the classroom and virtually, with an emphasis on individual learning. Thatís a stark difference from his usual teaching style ó he loves to come up with projects that his students can work on in small groups.

But we all know even the smallest group isnít safe right now. Weíre in the middle of a deadly pandemic, and thereís no such thing as being too safe. Gideon will be wearing a face mask and a face shield while teaching, something we are grateful that his district has provided for all staff members. Itís comforting to know he has protection, but that doesnít make the situation any less scary.

My heart goes out to all the teachers and administrators who have been forced to make difficult decisions during the pandemic. Iíve heard that some immunocompromised teachers have quit their jobs because they fear for their health. Iíve heard that administrators have come up with plan after plan to address the pandemic, only to start back from square one every time. Iím not in their shoes, but I can only imagine how frustrated they must feel.

All they want is to educate children while keeping them safe, and itís impossible to guarantee that at the moment. COVID-19 isnít some run-of-the-mill flu. Itís deadly and itís contagious and itís downright wrong to expect educators to put their lives on the line just to retain some semblance of normal. The fact is nothing is normal. We wonít get back to normal for a good while, and itís not going to be easy for our educators in the meantime.

Thatís the reason why educators impress me so much. Even though he has to wear a face covering and totally change his method of teaching, Gideon is excited to get back in the classroom. He sees it as a challenge to overcome ó how do you give students the best education possible while adhering to strict safety standards? Heís already told me about all these ideas he has for instruction, including projects that he never would have considered during a normal school year.

And heís not the only one. His fellow teachers are excited to see their kids, too, and they are staying positive despite how easy it would be to feel differently about the situation. They have a job to do, and theyíre going to do it to the best of their ability.

To all our local teachers, I have to say thank you for your hard work, persistence and positivity. You are handling a difficult situation with grace, and everyone in the Carroll County community is lucky to have you here.