Are Teachers Heroes Or Collateral Damage? We Are Getting Mixed Messages

by Amy Young
Originally Published: 
Woman wearing protective face mask during COVID-19 pandemic
Scary Mommy and martin-dm/Getty

Let’s talk about teachers.

You know — the heroes of the pandemic, the ones we were praising and saying are underpaid and under appreciated just a few months ago?

It’s funny how quickly people can turn on you. Those same teachers we all hailed as amazing are now just collateral damage in the eyes of politicians and people in power.

I get it — our kids need school. I have a daughter in high school who really wants to go back. But we can’t rush this like we did the reopening of America. We need to do it right.

In all the discussions of reopening schools, teachers are left out. Parents are getting to make the choice of whether their students do online learning or in person learning, but teachers have no say.

In all the discussions of reopening schools — there are no good guidelines about how we are going to keep teachers and staff safe.

In all the discussions of reopening schools — no one is proposing funding to help pay for whatever changes need to be implemented.

In other words, we are throwing teachers into the fire and forcing them to try to figure out a way to keep their students safe, keep themselves safe, and somehow teach. All without additional resources.


There are so many questions that need answers:

What about teachers who are older or have health problems? Will they be able to do online classes? Or are they supposed to sacrifice their health, and possibly their life, just to keep their job?

Who is going to buy the hand sanitizer? In the past, most teachers either bought their own or relied on parent’s donations for hand sanitizer. That’s not covered in the school budget. Neither are tissues or masks. If you think students are going to remember their masks everyday, think again. Many students can’t even keep track of their own pencils, which is why teachers often supply them.

Who is going to pay for extra help in cleaning and sanitizing the school?

Are teachers supposed to teach for eight hours without a break? Keeping kids in the room for specials and lunch? Teaching is exhausting — the few breaks teachers get are important to their well being.

Who is going to cover for teachers when they come down with the virus? There is already a shortage of substitutes — it’s a tough job with little pay. I have been a substitute for the last three years and I can tell you that I am not going back. It’s not worth it. I know many other good substitutes who feel the same.

Will teachers have to be quarantined if a student in their class gets COVID-19? Will the entire class have to be quarantined? Will that have to happen every time someone tests positive for the virus? What happens if the class quarantines, comes back, and two days later someone else tests positive? Are they going to continue changing from in person to online and back again?

Schools cannot even begin to think about reopening without having plans for these and all other scenarios. And teachers MUST be involved in those decisions!

Are we really going to go from “these people are heroes” to “these people can be sacrificed”?

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