14 Major Concerns Teachers Have About Kids Returning to School


Teachers Voice Major Concerns About Students Returning to School During a Pandemic

As states begin to announce plans for the new school year, many teachers have growing worries. Most states seem to be deciding to reopen schools in the coming months. Remote teaching during a pandemic was hard on just about everyone – teachers, students, and parents. While starting a new school year remotely isn’t ideal, many teachers also have big concerns about returning to school in person. Yes, they are worried about contracting COVID-19, of passing it on to loved ones, and of possible financial hardships, but they are also very worried about their students. Here are some of their concerns.

Related: Can We Talk About the Serious Dangers of Sending Teachers Back to School?

1. Returning to school now will be terrifying for some kids.

Students haven’t been in the classroom since March. A whole lot of scary stuff has happened in the world since then. They’re returning to school with new policies and procedures in place. And they’ll be with a new teacher – possibly someone they’ve never seen before. That’s an overwhelmingly scary scenario for many kids.

2. Is the classroom a healthy environment?

Many classrooms don’t have sinks. How will they wash hands frequently? Some classrooms don’t have windows or are located in basements. Will there be enough fresh air circulating? Who is going to keep up with sanitation?

3. Supplies are still hard to get.

Speaking of sanitation, cleaning supplies, hand soap, paper towels, gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer are still hard to find in many areas. Will schools have enough? 

4. They are dreading the mask battles.

Some students will argue about wearing a mask because their parents are against masks. Even willing kids are going to get sick of wearing them and become whiny. Making sure they are worn properly and not swapped is going to be a full-time job. And what if students don’t have a mask? Will the school have extras available?

5. Social anxiety from being filmed all day in their classroom may impact teaching.

Remote teaching was a social anxiety trigger for some teachers. Many schools are giving parents the option of their children returning to school in person or staying home to watch lessons on a live feed. Being filmed all day is terrifying for those who deal with anxiety. Teachers are worried they won’t be able to effectively teach either set of students if they’re having constant anxiety attacks.

6. How will student privacy be maintained if classes are filmed?

If the in-person class is streamed for students at home, how will privacy be maintained? Will parents have to sign a waiver for their child to be on camera? One teacher said, “I want to protect the privacy of all my students, but I’m also very concerned about cameras in the classroom as a parent. My daughter has autism and epilepsy. I don’t want a seizure, stemming, or meltdown broadcast for everyone to see and possibly record. It isn’t safe for her.”

7. They wonder how low-income students will be impacted.

Some schools have already issued supply lists, which contain Lysol wipes, masks, gloves, paper towels, cleaning products, soap, and more. Not all students will be able to afford this. Parents who can’t afford to stay home from work may send their child to school sick or be unable to leave work to immediately pick up a child who develops a fever.

8. Are families at risk of being deported if they get sick?

Some teachers had students in the spring express worry their non-citizen parents or grandparents would be deported if they got sick. Teachers often take on the worries of their students.

9. Connecting with students will be more challenging.

Masks are going to make it hard for many students to interpret nonverbal communication. Teachers and students won’t be able to see each other smiling behind masks. Touch – fist bumps, high fives, handshakes, hugs, etc. – are important for both connection and comfort, but will be absent from classrooms this year.

10. Teachers are anxious about helping children process death.

What if a child loses a family member? Or if another teacher at school dies? Or even a classmate? Teachers aren’t trained to help children process death and grief. 

11. How will a substitute step in if they get sick?

Teachers are concerned about how a substitute will step in if they get sick or need to quarantine. Schools are planning complicated rotating schedules and hybrid models that will be nearly impossible for subs to dive into.

12. Will returning to school be a positive experience for kids?

Is it possible to have an environment that promotes learning and healthy development for kids will all of these changes? Teachers will do their best, but the requirements for social distancing and sanitation will take a lot away from the typical school experience for children.

13. Mental health and social service resources are needed more than ever.

The stress of the pandemic is believed to have increased child abuse, but reports are down because teachers haven’t had their eyes on kids in months. Teachers need to be on the lookout for signs of abuse when returning to school. Many families have lost all income. Children will be coming to school traumatized and hungry. Teachers worry there won’t be enough resources for students and their families.

14. They’re terrified their students will get sick. 

While COVID-19 doesn’t seem to impact children as much as adults, kids and teens have died of the virus. Hundreds of children have also been diagnosed with an inflammation disorder as a side effect of coronavirus. Teachers have a hard time thinking of a student getting ill – or worse.

Teachers want to be there for students. They want to do it safely and aren’t complaining about social distancing and cleaning requirements. They want to provide a sense of normalcy and routine. And, most of all, they want to teach. However, they’re concerned about how returning to school will impact students. Teachers are deep in thought worrying and considering dozens of different scenarios. They desperately want to be prepared to help their students through what is sure to be a very bumpy year.

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Teachers Have Major Concerns About Students Returning to School During a Pandemic

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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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