Teachers Are Not Saviors of Our Nation During COVID19

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Teachers Are Not Saviors

COVID19 continues to change and affect our lives in many ways. The virus is prominent in almost every facet of our lives, including the public and private educational systems. Currently, the national debate about the virus is whether or not to reopen schools in August or September 2020. Educators are caught in a quagmire because they must choose between returning to school buildings or defiance. Politicians continue to huff and puff, “Children need to be in school!” Once again, the ask of teachers, administrators, and school staff is come to the rescue and clean up a mess created by others. This time the chaos is deadly! Teachers are human, not immortal. Most of all, teachers are not saviors of the nation.

We see that COVID19 has no boundaries and does not discriminate. Science and data show that infection rates cross a variety of ages, ethnic groups, and gender. Yes, the mortality rate is higher for people over 50 and in black and brown communities with underlying conditions. However, the virus is like a thief in the night, and it’s stealing lives before our eyes. Some of the persons include educators in public and private schools. Let’s take a look at statistics for teachers in the United States.

Teacher Data

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2015-16, there were 3,827,000 public school teachers and 465,000 private school teachers. Almost 30% of public school teachers are over 50 years old. Teachers 40-49 years old represent 27.4%, 30-39 years old equals 28.5%, and under 30 is 15%. Seventy-six percent of teachers are female, and 23.4% are male. The data is for teachers and does not include additional school staff like aides, social workers, nurses, custodians, lunchroom workers, office staff, bus drivers, and security. Schools consist of many people working with students daily. 

Keeping students and school staff is paramount to reopening school during a pandemic.

Educators Face Societal Ills

Educators face many societal ills each day: homelessness, violence, substance abuse, child abuse, drug abuse, hunger, trauma, physical and emotional trauma. Then there is a list of risk factors that affect teaching and learning: community issues, unemployment, drugs, violence, generational poverty, cultural differences, lack of funding and resources, and even politics. Teachers put on their armor all the time. We save many children and, occasionally, parents. Now, along comes COVID19, and it is unlike anything we experienced. The expectation is to show up and do what we do best. Not this time, because teachers are not the saviors of the nation.

All educators will gladly say that we do not walk on water. Too many times, teachers pick up the torch to fix the damage caused by others. Whether it is a rural or urban school setting, educators must teach and be social workers, nurses, psychologists, and pseudo-parents to some students. School staff members try to be empathetic to all, but at times it is impossible. Each child’s situation is different. Teachers try to understand a student’s living situation to serve their needs better. Most times, the school is the hub of a community, and educators want to make it a safe zone. 

COVID Changes Educational Systems

COVID19 changes the way we will educate and what a typical school day looks like now. Many teachers feel left out of the planning process to reopen schools. Principals and teachers alike feel demeaned or disrespected by the Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos. During a CNN interview, despite the CDC Considerations to reopen schools, Devos brushes off coronavirus risks and wants to open schools regardless of risk. Some of Devos’s comments seem to blame teachers for online or remote learning being ineffective. Then Betsy Devos and the President threatened to take away federal funding if school districts do not reopen. Educators felt a slap in the face to their health and safety.

Kaiser Family Foundation Study

A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that one out of four teachers is at risk of serious illness if infected by a coronavirus. An article from CNN reports, “Teachers and instructors, about 24% of the total, suffer from health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or obesity, or older than 65. It makes them more vulnerable.” Educators are human, not immortal. Teachers are not saviors of our nation.

The article continues to say, “The share of teachers at high risk based on criteria identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the same as for workers overall, Kaiser said. Schools face the challenge of high traffic and tight quarters, which could make social distancing difficult.”

Essential School Supplies!

Education, An Essential Institution

Schools are places of importance in our country. Education is an essential social institution; consequently, it plays a crucial role in our society. Training and education help shape the citizenry’s opinions, beliefs, thinking, and skills. Many believe education is the most critical thing in the world. Teachers, administrators, and school staff members don’t disagree with the significance of reopening schools. With rising coronavirus cases, educators do not want their opinions overlooked by politicians and persons making decisions.  

A Heavy Burden On Teachers

Educators always have the best interests of the students in mind. They recognize that parents need to get back to work, and children need socialization and daily routines. Many politicians want to resurrect the economy more than anything else. They pontificate the economy cannot improve unless schools reopen. Furthermore, they spout off statistics and infection rates of children. Yet, those rates of infection are increasing. At what cost should teachers risk their own lives? All school staff members want to return to work, but they have their health and families to keep safe. Do not put the heavy burden of the coronavirus on the backs of educators! Educators, stand up and be heard. Your lives depend on using your voices.

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