Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and schools beginning to open, teachers have voiced and expressed their concerns for going back to school because they do not want to risk their health or that of a loved one. In order to remain teaching virtually from their homes, instead of in-person eLearning from their classrooms, teachers must undergo a process that includes Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) approval.
The process to be approved for at-home instruction requires filling out a form and obtaining a physician’s note explaining the need for one to remain at home due to their own health needs or those of a family member.
“In my opinion, the ability to stay virtual would greatly enhance my ability to continue to work with my students, while continuing to keep myself and my family members safe,” 10th grade Literacy Team Lead Shauna Mogan said. “Unlike school, I can control who comes in and out of my house and I am limited on the people I see face-to-face.”
“Unlike school, I can control who comes in and out of my house and I am limited on the people I see face-to-face.”10th grade Literacy Team Lead Shauna Mogan
The students that have chosen to go back to school have been affected by teachers that remain virtual. Students go to what is called an “overflow room” where they, and the other students of teachers that are not on school grounds, go for that class period.
“In the beginning, most of my teachers were at home, leaving almost all of my entire A Day in overflow rooms, and those are terrible,” sophomore Sophia Newman said. “In those overflow rooms, it’s just a bunch of kids about six feet apart and it is very hard to focus being surrounded by so many people. It makes me wonder what the point of me going to school is when my teachers don’t come either.”
There are teaching differences as well, such as less human interaction and this comes with the difficulty of trying to get a point across to students in entirely different environments, levels of concentrations, and overall setting. These have all put different strains on teachers, stylistically.
“I feel like teaching online is going smoothly and not any worse than having a few kids in class, but I think creating relationships with students through eLearning is challenging…”Math teacher Alexandra Silvestri
“Attendance is harder because I need to take different attendance for home students versus school students but am not physically there to check,” math teacher Alexandra Silvestri said. “I feel like teaching online is going smoothly and not any worse than having a few kids in class, but I think creating relationships with students through eLearning is challenging, when in school it is something I work really hard at.”
The mere difference of not being constantly surrounded by people is what makes all of the difference to some teachers. Depending on the level of severity with certain conditions, COVID-19 is known to have lethal effects. So it is of paramount importance to those that need to remain safe to have that opportunity to stay home, provided by ADA approval.
“[It is the fact that] you are exposed to … people [in person. At home,] you are able to limit your exposure,” AICE English and General Paper teacher Barbara Sickler said.
Many CCHS teachers, however, are still pending approval. Throughout this process of being approved, teachers that have applied have been granted permission to continue teaching virtually until their request is either approved or denied. This does not mean that all of those who are home will get approved ADA accommodations; it just means that during the process of approval, they are permitted to stay home as they once were before the times of in-person eLearning enforced by Broward County Public Schools.
Illustration by Sofie Kahlig