The Start to the School Year is Unlike Any Other

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The Start to the School Year is Unlike Any Other

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I wrote an opinion piece for Idaho Education News last week after the latest school board meeting in Nampa, Idaho. Since March of 2020 educators have worked tirelessly to ensure that our students continue to receive a quality education. Initially, educators were seen as 'heroes' of the pandemic. However, over the last 9 months, the rhetoric surrounding schools and teachers has turned nasty. Yet, teachers continue to show up every single day and offer learning experiences to all children. At last week's board meeting, the discussion focused primarily on a mask mandate for our district as hospitals in our state began rationing care given the soaring number of Covid-19 cases. There was an even split between the trustees who were in favor of masking and the trustees who were against masking. This split did not come as a shock to me. However, the line of one trustee hit me in my gut, "I guess I go back to the mission statement. I'm here for the kids, so I'm not going to worry about the adults." The mission and vision statement the trustee is referencing states that teachers offer "exceptional learning experiences" for every child. Given the largely unvaccinated population of our community, the high numbers of teachers out sick, and the alarming number of students out sick as mask mandate seemed like a simple request. However, the board did not vote in favor of helping teachers ensure we are able to provide 'exceptional learning experiences.' Are masks the only answer? Not necessarily. Last year, students attended school 4 days per week while the 5th day was reserved for students to connect with students who were in quarantine/sick and unable to attend school. This year, all of those requirements are gone. That being said, students and teachers attend school 5 days per week and there is no time allotted for teachers to connect with students who are quarantined or sick. Given the latest numbers, about 25% of our entire district is out sick. That is 25% of students who do not have access to their teachers.

The article was published on Tuesday, September 14, 2021, and Idaho Ed News shared it on their Facebook page as well. Shortly after 7 pm MST the post has over 160 comments (mostly in favor of teachers), 250 reactions, and over 50 shares. In addition, I have received numerous private messages and emails from other teachers who thank me for giving them a voice during this 'unprecedented' time. While I am still a fairly new teacher with only 3 years of experience, there are veteran teachers who are being pushed to the brink. Many would like to think this is an Idaho problem but the reality is that teachers across the country are feeling unsupported and unappreciated by the communities they serve. I am fearful this will be my last year teaching - I LOVE my job. I remain hopeful that this year turns out to be something amazing.

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Idaho Education News

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A paper heart that is taped to the inside of a front door that says: Wash UR HANDS PLS"I prefer my Corona in a bottle." Link Image

This item was submitted on September 14, 2021 by Morgan Keena using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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