Many students and teachers love to go to school to interact with people and say that the social aspect of education is very important.
Tim Kahl, an ELA teacher at Helix High School is seeing the struggles in his own virtual classroom. “I have a really hard time keeping the kids focused through Zoom,” said Kahl.
With the COVID-19 pandemic dragging into its 9th month, few are appreciating any of what is coming out of it. The dangers of the virus itself, product shortages, restrictions on gathering, and forcing students into online school are all now common.
Most people are not huge fans of any of these changes, but much anger has been a result of parents having to quit their jobs because their kids have nowhere to go for school and must stay home.
Teachers have had to assign more homework and have less time to talk to the kids to determine if they understand what they are trying to teach. “With everything happening, my teaching (time) has been cut in half,” said Kahl.
This is not a problem that exists only at Helix, or even in eastern Oregon. Lindsey Ash, a student at Borah High School, which is in Idaho, said that she is still nervous to go into school but the teachers are trying to make it a safe environment. “They either have up desk dividers or we are spaced out three desks from every person,”said Ash.
Though teachers are trying, it may not be the best environment for the students. At the end of the last school year, the state canceled state testing and some teachers liked that idea. Kahl has a strong opinion about conducting state testing to his classes this year. ”They should cancel state testing, straight up,” said Kahl. He feels that teachers are having a hard time teaching under unusual circumstances, even when they have all the equipment and technology to help them.
Being able to go back into in-person school this year will be tricky, since Umatilla county is still rising in Covid cases. In order for school to be normal again, there has to be a test positivity rate of less than five percent, but right now it’s sitting at 12.2 percent. In addition to that, the count of cases has to be less than 50 per 100,000 population for students to be in school and the count is currently at 566 in the last 14 days.
Teachers, parents, and students don’t know when school will be back to normal but they can all agree on one thing and that is, it can’t come too soon.