Editorial: Teachers shouldn’t use their power to influence students regarding reopening

Some+teachers+have+been+using+their+positions+as+influential+figures+to+persuade+students+to+remain+at+home+rather+than+return+to+in-person+learning.

Elle Horst

Some teachers have been using their positions as influential figures to persuade students to remain at home rather than return to in-person learning.

“It’s putting my life in danger.”

“This should never have happened.”

“No one should want to go back.”

The reopening of schools amidst the pandemic has been a source of discord among the community. 

Parents, panicked from the deteriorating state of their children’s mental health and quality of learning, have clashed repeatedly with teachers concerned about the safety of an in-person format.

Both sides have had justifiable concerns, but some teachers have crossed the line when it comes to expressing them through the manipulation of their students. 

Though many educators have remained fair and mostly impartial in their discussions with students, others have abused their positions in the classroom to try to sway students to not return in-person. This needs to stop. 

Ever since districts have decided to return to an in-person format, teachers across California have bombarded their students with these kinds of sentiments at a relentless pace. 

Some have taken it to extremes. In a San Diego school, for example, a teacher gave a poll to students about their plans to return during the class, then thanked the ones who decided not to go back for not risking her life when it was concluded. 

This is incredibly irresponsible. As educators, they are in a position of power to influence the student body. Pupils tend to respect their teachers and work to please them. Moreover, many students are seeking college recommendations from teachers and want to be viewed favorably. 

By repeatedly voicing their displeasure about the process, not only are they exposing students to their biased viewpoint, they are simultaneously putting students in a position where they feel pressured to agree. 

What’s more, the students who ultimately decide to return to in-person learning may be uncomfortable, as they know that their teachers did not want them to be there. 

The majority of students are also minors who, regardless of their own preferences, are subject to their parents’ decisions regarding their education. Some really have no choice but to return. 

That’s not to say all teachers are guilty of this. Plenty of teachers have remained respectful and neutral when discussing reopening, simply stating the facts of the process. The biases that do emerge in these discussions, however, are those of the students. This is how it should be. 

It is perfectly reasonable for teachers to be concerned about the process, and it’s ok for them to worry about logistics and their safety. It’s ok for them to advocate vigorously for their desires in union and school board meetings or other appropriate forums.  But these concerns should not be voiced in the classroom to their impressionable students.

*This editorial reflects the views of the Scot Scoop editorial board and was written by Elle Horst.