11 Reasons There’s No Way the CDC Has Ever Set Foot in an Actual Classroom

11 Reasons There's No Way the CDC Has Ever Set Foot in an Actual Classroom

As we get ready to wrap up the most bizarre school year we’ve all ever had, it’s time to start thinking about what school life will look like next year when we actually have to take our pajamas off and go back into the classroom. Thankfully, our friends over at the CDC have issued some guidelines for when schools reopen and let me just say… I needed a good laugh like that.

Let’s take a look at some of these guidelines and see how feasible they are.

1. CDC: “Space seating/desks at least 6 feet apart when feasible.”

What school has big enough classrooms and small enough class sizes for this to ever be feasible? Please tell me so I can send my resume right now! Students are already packed into our classrooms like sardines, we barely have enough desks! Hopefully, the CDC has a few of those machines from “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”. Or maybe they’ll reduce class sizes to 5 students per class and have kids go to school in waves, one day a week. Am I missing something here?

2. CDC: “Actively encourage employees and students who are sick or who have recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19 to stay home.”

That sounds like a great idea… Except teachers only get a handful of sick days a year, and once those are gone, we’re basically missing out on paychecks. And since the typical amount of quarantine time is two weeks, teachers would lose a full year of sick days (and more) pretty quickly. Plus, for every teacher that’s sick at home, there needs to be a substitute to cover that class. Since we’re already facing a nation-wide shortage of substitute teachers, where exactly are those new subs going to come from?

3. CDC: “Teach and reinforce handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.”

Look, we’ve been trying to teach this to our students for years with varying degrees of success. In general kids are walking germ factories and there’s very little we’ve been able to do to curb that. So how do you suppose we get this particular message across?

On top of this, some of us teach 120 kids a day who need to wash their hands 20 seconds at a time every other period. Math teachers are scrambling over this word problem. Let’s take a look…

If there are only 10 sinks available to use at once in a school. If 120 kids need to wash their hands for 20 seconds at a time, 5 times a day, how many hours will be spent having kids wash their hands on a regular school day between 8 am to 3 pm?
Answer: More than half of the school day, not including the time it takes to get them to the bathroom, dry their hands, and get back to the classroom.

Somebody over at the CDC obviously didn’t pay attention in math class!

4. CDC: “Encourage staff and students to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Used tissues should be thrown in the trash and hands washed immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.”

Beyond the obvious issue here of trying to get students to clean up after themselves, can you even imagine the level of distraction this would cause? Students already look for any excuse to start a conga line to the bathroom as it is, and sinks are not standard issue in most classrooms. Good luck keeping a lesson going with that going on. Lord help us!

5. CDC: “Support healthy hygiene behaviors by providing adequate supplies, including soap, hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, paper towels, tissues, disinfectant wipes, cloth face coverings, and no-touch/foot-pedal trash cans.”

So… the CDC recommends schools provide supplies for its classrooms? What a novel concept! Teachers have been clamoring for supplies for years. Really crazy supplies too, like… pencils and paper. School budgets are so razor-thin, teachers have been paying for their own supplies for years, so where is this magical funding going to come from for paper towels, wipes, foot-pedal trash cans, and hand sanitizer? Particularly at a time when most states are announcing budget CUTS after the pandemic! Or are they just expecting teachers to pull the supplies out of thin air? Probably.

6. CDC: “Broadcast regular announcements on reducing the spread of COVID-19 on PA systems.”

How regular is regular? Every hour? Every 10 minutes? Teachers deal with an endless array of disruptions as it is. Morning announcements, administrator walkthroughs, phone calls from the front office, you name it. Now, you want schools to barge into our lessons with more announcements? They do expect us to be teaching during all this right? Just wondering.

7. CDC: “Keep each child’s belongings separated from others’ and in individually labeled containers, cubbies, or areas.”

How big does the CDC think our classrooms are exactly? Trying to keep a classroom of 25 students socially distanced is impossible enough, but keeping all of their belongings separated and labeled on top of it?

Are you kidding me?

Where are we going to put all of this? I’m getting a migraine just imagining trying to get my students to go to their “individual containers” to retrieve the supplies they’ll need for today’s lesson without trampling each other, and you want us to make sure they stay 6 feet apart while doing it.

8. CDC: “Close communal use shared spaces such as dining halls and playgrounds with shared playground equipment.”

So that means recess is out, which will thrill primary teachers who rely on outside time to let students burn off their endless supply of energy. And what’s the plan for lunch if we can’t use the cafeteria? Then again if you think about it, aren’t our classrooms considered “shared spaces” too? Should we close them? Where would you like us to teach? There’s only so many of us that will fit on the roof.

9. CDC: “Have children bring their own meals as feasible or serve individually plated meals in classrooms instead of in a communal dining hall or cafeteria.”

Wait a minute, hold up! You want us to hold lunch inside our classrooms? I can’t even begin to describe the flaming grease fire this would turn in to. Delivering school lunch to each individual classroom. Teachers having to give up their lunch break to monitor their classes. Keeping students 6-feet apart while eating and somehow making sure they don’t make a mess. I’ve seen cafeterias that look like war zones after lunch shifts, so excuse me if I’m not enthused with bringing that battle into my classroom.

10. CDC: “Ensure that student and staff groupings are as static as possible by having the same group of children stay with the same staff and limit mixing between groups.”

While this wouldn’t be too hard to pull off for primary grade levels, what do middle and high schools do? I’m pretty sure that literature teachers would rather not spend their days teaching the Pythagorean Theorem and I’m not sure science teachers are equipped to break down Shakespearean sonnets.

11. CDC: “Face coverings should be worn by staff and students as feasible. Students should be frequently reminded not to touch the face covering and to wash their hands frequently.”

While it’s going to be challenging for middle school and high school teachers who can barely get students to comply with the dress codes they have in place, imagine what it’s going to be like with the younger kids…

Is there no one in the CDC with children of their own?

Every parent or primary school teacher can tell you that kids stick fingers in the weirdest places, all day long! We already spend hours every day trying to get students to keep their hands to themselves, and now you expect us to police their every move and get them to keep their hands from themselves, too?

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11 Reasons There's No Way the CDC Has Ever Set Foot in an Actual Classroom

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David Rode

Dave is a middle school math teacher. He's also a musician, a community theater, dad to two amazing children, and he doesn't get a lot of sleep.

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