Teaching during COVID-19: How are teachers feeling about going back to school?

Back to School

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Nothing about school will be “the norm” when kids return this fall. Many Central New York district’s plans include in-person and remote learning.

NewsChannel 9’s Nicole Sommavilla spoke with the Syracuse Teachers Association President Bill Scott, who says teachers still have unanswered questions about daily learning logistics.

“Our teachers always go above and beyond, now we’re going above the beyond,” said Scott.

In the spring they did what, for many, seemed like the impossible. Now, it’s about to get even more complicated with remote and in-person learning.

“For our students, access to technology to get online and access to online itself is a barrier that we need to work to overcome,” said Scott. He says the Union will also be asking for a shortened workday so teachers can prep for virtual learning.

They’re also trying to figure out if it’s possible for all the teachers to stream their classes live so students at home can join kids in the classroom or if they’ll have to tape them for students to access later in the day.

“It would seem to make sense, that live broadcast, but now you have a bandwidth problem, you have a technology problem, you have access to equipment. If every teacher in the district were doing that we would overwhelm the district’s ability to broadcast that all at the same time and I wonder if we’d overwhelm the city’s capacity too,” said Scott.

Teachers have three top concerns:

  • Whether the air filtration system is safe and clean enough
  • If students will wear masks and what the protocol will be if someone doesn’t want to
  • What teachers should do with their own children who could be remote learning at home

Another worry is the virus itself.

“They’re very much concerned about that, about a student bringing that in and everybody in the class becoming infected,” said Scott. “Our screening process requires a temperature check coming off the bus but as we know, children are often asymptomatic.”

Scott says another issue with remote learning is the lack of in-person nurturing. Without being in a school environment every day, they lose that social safety net.

It’s really hard to gauge if they need any help if there’s any concerns and of course if there are, they have to be careful about identifying those concerns to you because if they’re having tension between themselves and somebody in their household if they come right out and say it, it may become more problematic. Those are the kind of things that if they show up to school, there are identifiable concerns that we can say, ‘oh I’m worried I’ve gotta take some action here.’

Bill Scott, Syracuse Teachers Association President

Some of the teachers are ready to get back in the classroom, but others are apprehensive.

“I think it’s a huge, huge logistic lift. It’s a whole lot of functioning to keep people safe and it’s all very, very fragile. I’m just worried that it’s just a matter of time if we do this where we’re doing the hybrid and having everyone come back, that something in the system fails and we have a situation where a lot of people get infected all at once,” said Scott.

Ideally, he would like to push back the in-person start date and have kids go back to school in phases, potentially having all remote learning through the first marking period.


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For more local news, follow Nicole Sommavilla on Twitter @NeSommavilla.

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