COVID-19 Quarantine Isn’t a Vacation for Teachers


COVID-19 Quarantine Isn’t a Vacation for Teachers

“Teachers are lucky. They already get their whole summers paid now they’re getting extra paid vacation because of the coronavirus closing schools.” I’ve seen comments like this pop up multiple times on social media in the past few days. I understand a steady paycheck sounds appealing right now while so many are worried about how they’re going to pay rent and buy groceries, but the COVID-19 quarantine is not a stress-free time for teachers. We’re not on an extended vacation. We still have big responsibilities and even bigger worries. Here are a few.

We’re worried about our students.

Will they have enough food? Many families depend on free and reduced breakfast and lunch to feed their kids. Sure, many school districts are still offering free lunch programs, but many kids won’t be able to get to these sites. What about other necessities? Will their electricity stay on if their parents can’t work?

Are they safe? School is the only safe place for some students. Domestic violence experts are predicting a rise in child abuse due to coronavirus. Increased stress combined with increased time at home is a dangerous combination for children already living in an abusive situation. Since the children won’t be attending school, they won’t be seen by mandatory reporters. 

What if they or a family member get sick? Will they have someone home to care for them? Will they have the supplies they need? Will they be able to get medical help if needed?

Will they have supervision? Parents need to continue to go to work for as long as possible so they can support their families. Other parents are on the frontlines and quarantining isn’t an option. With schools closed, some parents have no choice but to leave kids home without an adult. Many students are taking on caretaker roles – often at an age where they should still have supervision themselves.

We’re sad for all our students are losing. Our students are missing their routines, friends, and teachers. Their lives have suddenly been turned upside down. They are missing big milestones like long-awaited field trips, grad bash, prom, and even graduation. 

We’re worried about testing.

We’re wondering how state testing will be handled and how it impacts our livelihood. Students are going to be out of school for weeks in the best-case scenario. Will testing still happen? Some states, such as Texas, have canceled testing for this year, while others, such as Tennessee, say it will go on. How can students be expected to test after a highly stressful time without usual instruction? Teacher bonuses are often based on these tests, so what does this mean for our future paychecks? 

We’re anxious students missing crucial testing dates. SAT testing dates have been canceled. What about students who were depending on testing for college acceptance?  

We’re worried about coworkers. 

Will hourly school district employees still be paid? What about all the bus drivers, teacher assistants, substitutes, janitors, cafeteria workers, etc.? They have bills to pay and family members to feed also.

We’re worried about the future of our profession.

What about our student teachers who won’t be able to get the hours required to graduate? Teacher burnout is high with 19% – 30% percent of new teachers leaving the field within their first five years. If student teachers aren’t able to graduate because they can’t get in their required internship hours, who will replace all the teachers quitting?

We’re worried about the expectations for teachers during the COVID-19.

Our workload is even bigger right now. We’ve suddenly been tasked with preparing assignments, lesson plans, quizzes, etc. for students to do at home for weeks with little notice. We’re having to do training on online teaching, navigate new technology and attend many meetings about how to handle educating students virtually. 

We’re skeptical about students actually completing online assignments. Not all students have Internet access. Some might not even have electricity. Families are trying to hold their lives together right now and sitting down to help kids with math assignments or make sure they’re turning in their essays just isn’t going to be a priority. 

We’re trying to work from home with our own kids present. Most teachers have been instructed to continue creating and giving assignments, grading and communicating with students and families during the quarantine. Many of us have children at home ourselves, so we’re trying to figure out how to manage calls, emails and video sessions. 

We’re still worried about having enough money. 

We’re still very concerned about how we’re going to make ends meet. Many teachers work second jobs in the service industry to make ends. The COVID-19 quarantine is greatly limiting access to those jobs. Our partner might not be able to work and a teacher salary alone often isn’t enough to support a family. 

We love our students. Many of us didn’t even get to explain what was happening or say goodbye to them. They are likely to never set foot in our classrooms again if the quarantine continues through the end of the school year. We will do our best to check in, to continue teaching the best we can from a distance to be a resource to parents, all while trying to keep our own households running in this crisis. We’re all in this together.  COVID-19 isn’t a vacation for teachers or anyone else. 

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Rachael Moshman
Rachael Moshman, M.Ed. is a mom, educator, writer, and advocate for self-confidence. She’s been a teacher in classrooms of infants through adult college students. She loves pizza, Netflix and yoga.
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