You’ve likely heard it before, children are the backbone of our future. Without people to educate them, our economy would tank, the healthcare system would fail, and our country would fall into disrepair in a matter of decades. Teachers have always felt this mounting pressure. To be thrust to the frontlines against an invisible enemy in a matter of months was once unfathomable. A Québec elementary school teacher in the public sector gave us a peek of what’s actually happening in school during COVID-19, but they have asked to remain anonymous in fear of backlash. This educator puts it bluntly, “I do not feel valued or protected by our government at all.”
After working remotely at the start of the pandemic, teachers have recently returned to the classroom. Attendance varies greatly day-to-day as students come down with typical colds, but are being kept home for a few days to monitor symptoms out of precaution. There has also been an increase in anxiety and meltdowns amongst the children. Teachers are doing their best to reassure students by reminding them to focus on what they do have and what they can do right now.
They describe some of the new measures to maintain distance, which include one-way staircases, directional arrows on the floor, and bathrooms with every other stall left empty. A system of bathroom passes was established to ensure only two students per grade can use it at any given time. The students at this school had a difficult time initially adjusting to this new way of life, especially maintaining distance, but are now reported to be following the protocols as best they can.
Teachers were provided with 50 masks and instructed on how many they could wear per day. The school ominously added that they were uncertain of when the next batch would arrive so use them wisely. They were also supplied with a poor quality hand sanitizer, but the school paid for a useful sanitizing spray bottle. Additional training on sanitary measures and distance learning was provided to the staff.
Having to always be alert and keeping an eye on the students while maintaining your safe practices is exhausting, to say the least. Constantly reminding the kids not to get too close to one another and sanitizing all of the equipment between classes is a job in itself.
As a specialist, this educator works with the majority of the student body. Although they may be at increased risk of exposure due to the sheer volume of students they interact with daily, this teacher reports feeling safe at school. They note that this is because of their efforts to maintain their bubble and the fact that they wear their mask at all times, even when outside.
Returning to school in the middle of a pandemic unavoidably leads to changes in your daily routine to keep your loved ones safe at home. This frontline worker describes their new way of life during COVID, “I come home, change in the garage, put my clothes in a COVID box, change shoes, wipe down everything I bring from school with Sani-wipes, change into a bathrobe – shower immediately – then I see my family and my pets.”
This educator assures that the staff is being very careful to do what’s best for the students, and society in general, by consistently maintaining a very high standard of safety protocols. With all things considered, they caution, “Our school has yet to report an active case, but I do feel that no matter how stringent we are – we will be affected because it’s out there in the community. We are bringing a large group of people together on a daily basis for many hours at a time.” This teacher is thankful for the efforts put forth by the parents who insist that their children follow the guidelines, and in turn, reduce the danger for everyone.