Getting ready to go back to school used to be a fun time: shopping for supplies, thinking about hanging out with friends you haven’t seen as much, and looking forward to meeting your teachers. But now, it’s just straight-up terrifying. Whether you’re a teacher, the loved one of a teacher, a student, or a parent, the back-to-school experience has become a nightmare.
With school districts unable to come to a consensus about how to deal with the COVID-19 threat and no helpful guidelines at the federal level, teachers and school staff are floundering and wondering whether or not to quit the careers they love.
On Reddit, teachers got candid about their fears and concerns about heading back to school, and we should listen to them because they know what they’re talking about—unlike certain people who should have never been put in charge of anything education-related (here’s looking at you, Betsy DeVos).
“I am worried for myself and my colleagues as we enter precarious working conditions. But mostly I worry for the kids and their community. We cannot go back to normal and many will be deeply traumatised. When I try to talk about how anxious I feel, nobody in my family or friendship group understands, they just tell me to stop worrying and enjoy my summer break.” — pinjooo
“I want to be back in school so badly but I can’t see how it will be safe to have the whole school in at once. I know the school I’m going to is doing everything in their power to make it as safe as possible but the situation the government has put schools in is no win. How can they say that we need to wear masks in shops (which I completely support) but that it’s safe for 30 kids to be in a room with no social distancing and no ppe?” — notamisprint
“My wife is a principal, and she’s been at her school every day (including during the lock-downs/quarantines), trying to figure this out. I fear for her health and safety, especially her mental and emotional well-being. I see the enormous amounts of stress being put upon her, and it kills me that I can’t help. There are some truly cruel parents/people out there who feel they can treat my wife and her staff like trash because…well, I don’t know why. I’d imagine most are just as frustrated as she is and they’re just taking it out on the school, but some are just self-centered, entitled assholes. Why make an already difficult situation harder? Despite what some might believe, teachers and staff haven’t been lounging around at home, mailing it in and collecting pay – if anything, they’re working harder and longer than ever. Given almost no notice, teachers and administrators had to completely redesign what school looks like – almost overnight – and they succeeded. Kids were learning, children were being fed, needs were being met in the midst of a global crisis. No state agency did that, no so-called national experts on curriculum. The local educators fixed it in hours. Our government, with its infinite power, wealth, and resources, has done nothing but pretend the problem doesn’t exist.” — CaptainWisconsin
“I have very mixed feelings. I really miss my students and can’t wait to see them. I know that online learning isn’t the same. But I also fear for their health and the health of their families.” — GaryJulesMCOC
“College professor here. I really miss the wonderful classroom dynamics that in-person learning makes possible. Online learning makes discussions more strained and shallow. I also really love working with my students and discussing their projects one-on-one. That is much harder to do remotely. However, I care about my students as people, and the thought of making them and their families sick by returning to campus too soon makes me very worried. I want them to get a good education, but not at the expense of their health and wellbeing. I would rather work twice as hard to make online learning successful than risk them getting sick or losing parents and grandparents to this illness.” — Netflix_and_backrubs
“I’m terrified. I work at a high school in Texas. Last year my largest class had 36 students. Between kids not having school supplies, passing in the hallways, gym, sports, discipline, & teenage hormones I know for a FACT that social distancing & keeping things clean can’t work. If full grown adults refuse to wear a mask then imagine 1000s of teenagers. Our school has a daycare too, with babies. It’s too risky & it’s unfair to ask us to risk not only our lives but the lives of our students. This is not a hoax. There is no getting back to normal. We either have to accept it or risk certain death. I am not exaggerating with any of this.” — BlkMsFrizzle
“The issue is that all these parents want us to go back to “normal” school but fail to realize school will NOT be normal. No good morning hugs and high fives. No fun projects with partners. No team-building activities like marshmallow tower or saving Fred. No independent centers with shared materials. No shared technology permitted. No library books. No playground equipment. No classroom helper jobs (paper passer, librarian, board-eraser, etc). No restorative circles with an actual talking piece. No special handshake to start class. No reading with a teddy bear or on a floor pillow. No switching seat privileges. No cafeteria antics. No visible smiling (masks). No teacher’s chair privileges. No kinder buddies (my class always helps in preK and kinder with a ton of stuff). No group counseling in the very small counselors office.” — seleaner015
“I am sad that people like to use our kids as some sort of emotional argument in politics “think about your kids” and then turn around and push for defunding education and saying that kids dying is a fact of life if we can continue things as normal. I care that my kids are safe over whether they get a sense of things being back to normal. I’m sick of seeing people call us lazy and claim we want online learning because it’s “easier” when it in fact takes much more time to implement. I miss my students so much and wish I could snap my fingers and make Covid go away, but I can’t. We have already lost some staff members from Covid and a bunch of my kids have lost family members. I’ll be damned if I lose anymore friends or God forbid lose any of my kids through our government’s complete apathy and negligence. So if I could sum up my feelings…extremely pissed.” — TheGreatPlathetsby
“I feel hopeless. Last year was terrible. I miss my students. I called every parent every other week to check in, and I heard from 6 out of 31 parents. There was no closure with the students and I know my students have regressed academically and behaviorally. I am an Education Specialist (sped teacher, RSP), and I know my students need me to learn. I know they have diverse learning needs. And I know distance learning is not conducive to their success- at least not right now. But I can’t say that I feel comfortable going back to school in person. I am worried about my student’s health, their parent’s and families’ health, and well-being. My aide’s and colleagues’ health, and of course my own health. This is not to leave out that I and members of my family are at high risk for severe complications.” — Sancho_Squishy
“I’m a HS teacher In the South. Very Pro-Trump, Covid Hoax, Anti-Mask area. Our governor basically just told the schools that they will open full time because the CDC is just ‘guidelines.’ I know many teachers that are dreading going back, because of the risk. SC has notoriously mistreated the education system. We’ve always been underfunded, but now it’s really bad. If you’re religious, pray for us. If you’re not, do whatever it is you do.” — QuesoGato_Gaming