Teachers share differing opinions on return to in-person learning

Social+studies+teacher+Christina+Rice+smiles+at+her+virtual+teaching+set+up+in+her+home+on+the+first+day+of+the+current+school+year.

Photo by Christina Rice

Social studies teacher Christina Rice smiles at her virtual teaching set up in her home on the first day of the current school year.

As staff and students are returning to the building to take on in-person learning for the first time in over a year, teachers have differing opinions on what it will be like.

English teacher Zachary Hardy is in support of returning back to school. In general, he feels good about the return, as cases are down from the winter peak and people are starting to become vaccinated. “It might not be as safe as it was a year ago, but I think past a point regular life needs to resume, and it seems like there are a lot of structures in place to make things as clean and orderly as possible,” Hardy said. 

It is truly impressive how much work has gone into providing a safe environment for our return.”

— Christina Rice

Social studies teacher Christina Rice is less certain about the return, worried about it due to how cautious her family has been for the past year. However, Rice did return back to the building in early March and was extremely impressed by the efforts taken to ensure a safe return. ”All desks are six [feet] apart, there are signs indicating how many people can be in each classroom, bathroom, etc, there are desks set up in the Commons and cafeteria to ensure physical distancing, stair wells are one direction. It is truly impressive how much work has gone into providing a safe environment for our return,” Rice said.

Social studies teacher Nia Cresham is a combination of excited and nervous about the return to the building. Things are going to be different this year, but Cresham is committed to making sure the in-person and virtual students all get what they need.

But there is much more to returning back to in-person learning than appears on the surface. Getting readjusted to teaching from a classroom is one problem. Social studies teacher Amy Pollin has been used to being home with her daughter for a while now, and all that changes with a return to the building. Pollin isn’t looking forward to the technical problems of a return to in-person teaching, such as wearing a mask all day, teaching both virtually and in-person simultaneously and of course the risk of Covid. “Fortunately, I have been vaccinated, but my husband is not vaccinated and there are still concerns about the virus variants,” Pollin said.

Hardy shares the same problem of readjusting back to classroom life. Located in Northwest, D.C., Hardy is going to have to readjust to the hour-a-day commute and gas expenses that come with working from the school. Not only that, but he will no longer be able to have lunch or coffee breaks with his wife anymore or hang out with his cat, Milton. 

Fortunately it isn’t all downside returning to in-person; there are many aspects that teachers are looking forward to. Getting back into a structured routine, seeing some of their students and colleagues again and no longer just teaching to black boxes on a screen are just a few. Although the return to in-person learning won’t be the same as years past, it’s a step in the right direction and that’s all that matters.