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Local teachers share their thoughts on returning back to school

Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 6:57 PM EDT
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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - With school just around the corner, there is still much debate on how interaction with students this year should be handled. With the challenge of social distancing and taking other precautions across Pre-K through 12th grade, there are many thoughts on in-person learning.

"I prefer to have the children at school verses online, but to get them there, I want to make sure they're safe and feel safe," a first grade teacher at Johnson Elementary School, Amy Reinhart said.

How to make sure that safety is in place when students return will be the real test. Although Harrison County and surrounding areas are putting tactics in place, Reinhart said there still may be some obstacles.

"Having 25 kids in one room does add challenges," she said. "We strive with hands on learning, stations, groupings, partner learning, and that will be a challenge."

The question of how to provide students with a learning experience that doesn't hinder their growth is one many are still pondering over, but for some, they believe there's an obvious answer. The Harrison County chapter of the American Federation of Teacher's president, Renee McLean, said starting the year in classrooms may be a mistake.

"Obviously face to face instruction is best, and all the teachers want to go back to school and give that face to face instruction, but we have to do what's best for the kids at this point," McLean said.

"I just worry about--especially middle school, the kids are use to moving around every 45 minutes so it would be a big change for them to not be able to do that," she said.

The treasurer of the local union, Dr. Geraldine Beckett, agreed with McLean.

“If we go back, and then we have to come out again, it’s going to be even harder on everybody,” Beckett said. “I think it would be much better if we just start out remote and then gauge it from there and just move according to the data,” she said “Change the situation according to what the science and numbers are telling us.”

For Reinhart, the worries go beyond what students learn as well.

"I know they love hugs, and they love feeling happy and knowing that they are loved," she said. "It's going to be the hardest thing this year not giving hugs to children, so i don't know how all of that will work out."

However, Reinhart believes regardless of how students return, in the end it will be okay.

"Parents, teachers, try not to worry," she said. "Everything works out in the end, we have to be patient."

Ways teachers believe they can keep themselves and students safe range from things like PPE, having barriers, like we’ve seen in many businesses, and of course, remote and virtual learning. However, the Harrison County AFT wonder whether or not it’s worth the risk.

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