A few weeks into the school year in this uncertain time and things seem to be getting a little more certain. However, stress and anxiety around working remotely has been taking a bit of a toll, especially in the classroom. Now that students have started to acclimate to virtual learning, there is talk and worry about whether schools are ready to open their schools up for hybrid learning.
West Chester education student Victoria Bruna, who is teaching in the Philadelphia school district, explains: “So my perspective of this would definitely be that it is HARD! I stare at a computer screen for seven hours, five days a week, sometimes more since I have night classes. My eyesight has started to get worse, and my lower back is constantly in pain. I’m also working on the weekends and have no social life other than working and serving customers. It’s very hard not having much personal and social interaction, but I make sure I give myself one night of self care and one night of family time!”
This perspective seems to be echoed through many of the student teachers and teachers I have talked to and observed this semester. However, teachers have been relying on each other the most since their mental health has been up and down so much due to the stresses of online teaching, which is a great sentiment to see the school community come together to help each other.
It has been a large adjustment for students, parents and guardians as well. There are some positives to this transition, though. For example, attendance in the Upper Darby area has increased, students get more breaks in their day, and some daycares and parents have been helping teachers acclimate to this new normal. An article on back-to-school statistics by the National Center for Education Statistics states, “Fall 2020 public school enrollment is expected to be slightly higher than the 50.6 million students estimated to have been enrolled in fall 2019, but lower than in fall 2017, when public school enrollment was the highest ever reported (source). Total public elementary and secondary enrollment is projected to increase between fall 2020 and fall 2029 to 51.1 million.”
It has been an eye-opening experience learning about all the things teachers need to work with and work on during their days and beyond. Teachers and student teachers have been facing new stresses and challenges with schools deciding on when to open schools up for hybrid learning. The school districts are ordering new furniture, installing new hands-free water fountains and trying to adjust classrooms and hallways to CDC standards to ensure a safe and healthy school environment for students coming back. Parents and guardians have been filling out surveys to provide schools with statistics on how many students might be coming back to the classroom. Surprisingly, most parents and guardians from the classrooms in the Kindergarten Center have expressed that they are not comfortable yet to bring students back to school. We will continue to see how everything changes, since this year has been an ever changing ride, and schools will continue to be flexible with changes.
Sara Mahgoub is a senior majoring in Early Grades Preparation with a minor in Journalism. SM863178@wcupa.edu