Carlmont teachers give opinions on returning to school in-person

Students+have+not+attended+school+in+person+for+nearly+a+year.+Their+teachers+are+anxious+to+have+them+back%2C+but+still+mindful+of+the+very+real+risks.

Andrew Shu

Students have not attended school in person for nearly a year. Their teachers are anxious to have them back, but still mindful of the very real risks.

As the year draws to a close, the prospect of returning to in-person instruction becomes more and more tangible. While teachers anticipate an eventual return to a regular school setting, they also acknowledge the risks.

“I would love to get back to school as soon as possible, but not if it is unsafe,” Activities Director Jim Kelly said. “As hard as it has been, we still have to realize that this pandemic is very dangerous … Safety is my number one concern. After that, learning, and then, fun.”

Even though returning to the classroom may sound marvelous, French teacher Katherine Burton pointed out that face-to-face education does not mean the end of all COVID-19 protocols.

“The prospect of going back to school in a scenario where everyone is at a desk on a Chromebook, unable to get up and interact, sounds awful. If that is the option, I would rather just continue distance learning,” Burton said.

According to Burton, her associates in France have been able to begin teaching in person again. Burton thinks the process of returning to in-person schooling is ever-changing, especially due to the development of a vaccine.

For many teachers, helping students has become harder due to distance learning. Biology teacher Tyler Kochel looked forward to being able to fully assist students once in-person instruction resumes.

“It can be difficult to check in with students that need help during full Zoom classes,” Kochel said. “Office hours are available, but it requires students to take the initiative to sign on and ask for help.”

In addition to changes in teaching, distance learning changes the social aspect of school. Due to the nature of online classes, normal classroom chatter is absent. Even when students are encouraged to collaborate, such as in breakout rooms, many still avoid talking.

“I miss the noise, the volume, the chatter, the laughter, the talking! The proverbial scene is a teacher telling all the students to stop talking, and here I am longing for that,” Kelly said.

While most teachers want to return to in-person schooling, they understand that their desire to interact face-to-face does not outweigh the dangers of COVID-19. However, there must be a balance between student safety and the social aspect of in-person schooling.

“It will be great to see people in person and hopefully enjoy some of the annual traditions that students look forward to,” Kochel said. “Even when we return, the pandemic will still probably be a concern. We all have to continue to keep in mind safety measures when interacting with each other.”