Teaching During the Pandemic

Teachers Ill with COVID


Trevor Elliot

An inside look at what class without Ms. Enos looks like. Students are given the agenda for the day before given work time.

By now, it is obvious that the pandemic is not going away anytime soon, but that does not make it any easier to deal with. Society’s definition of normal did a 180. Frequent hand sanitizing, shortage of toilet paper and wearing face masks became the new norm. The pandemic has been active for almost a year now and a vaccine is close to being released. In Sarpy county alone reports from The New York Times, say that we have had 13,106 cases. Included in this number are several teachers from GHS.
“I got tested because it was our day off from school,” Ms. Jenny Long said. “And my sister wanted to go to the pumpkin patch and I had kinda a stuffy nose and I had had a lot of weird backaches and weird body pains. We were being so careful and I said I think I’m just gonna go get a rapid test just because there was so many people at Vala’s and just because I was going to be with my nieces and I said I would feel terrible if it turned out that tomorrow my symptoms were so much worse and I did have it. In an abundance of caution, just so I could ease my conscience, and I was surprised it was positive when it was positive.”
Ms. Jenny Long missed five school days and said it was a rocky and stressful few days of teaching viaZoom. Long zoomed into class her first day absent and let her substitute handle the students after that. Long and other students said that it was a rough first day.
“My experience with Ms. Long being on zoom was workable but difficult due to the constant backfire happening from the internet being unstable,” junior Callie Kutz said.
Another English instructor, Ms. Laura Enos recently tested positive for COVID. Enos experienced the symptoms of stomach and leg pains along with chills. Enos is confident that she contracted the virus from GHS, considering how many exposures our school has had. Her husband has been working from home for two weeks and their son is an e-learner. While many cases of COVID have spread after the recent holiday, the Enos family spent it alone with just the three of them.
“I’m fairly confident I got COVID at Gretna High School,” Enos said. “My sub teaches my in-person learners with my sub plans and Period 6 & 7 there is a co-teacher in the class/GHS certified staff member assisting the substitute teacher. I am teaching the distance-learners via Zoom in my basement and isolation from the rest of my family.”
Similar to Long, Enos is worried about her students and has not seen all that many benefits from teaching through zoom. The internet has not been an easy task to manage for both English teachers. Enos will be missing a total of 10 days from the day she found out her test was positive.
“Benefits: I get more than one restroom break a day while at home and I’m able to eat my lunch in 15 minutes rather than a quick 5,” Enos said. “Writing sub-plans and making sure everything is explained thoroughly enough and accessible on google classroom so students can still be productive when you’re not there is pretty time consuming. I am not getting any more sleep by being at home. It’s much easier to be able to walk in the room and teach rather than have to explain it to someone else to do it for you. So once I’m done teaching for the day, I’m lesson planning from 4 PM until late in the evening. I am concerned my students feel like they’re getting short changed with learning in person when their teacher can’t be in person giving instruction. The timing is horrible with this being the end of the semester and grades needing to be finalized too.”
Enos’ students are also having a difficult time. Having a teacher absent at the end of the quarter is a definite struggle and not an ideal time for a teacher to be missing.
“Class is a lot different now that Enos is quarantined, ” sophomore Trevor Elliot. “We have really good substitute teachers but it’s just different because they don’t cover everything Enos would cover. I dislike Enos being gone because she helped me understand stuff more clearly.”
Both English teachers said the same thing: wear a mask, make sure it covers your nose and mouth. Even if one person is careful, others are not, and the spread will not stop. Keep our peers and teachers healthy.