Dear fellow educator,
It’s hard to believe that it’s August already, and the first day of school is here. Maybe you’re enjoying your last few weeks of freedom before another year of teaching starts, or maybe you’re back in full swing after a much-needed summer break. But no matter what, you’re probably worried about COVID-19 and how it’ll affect you and your students during the school year.
Like you, I spend Monday through Friday, early morning through early afternoon teaching our future teachers, accountants, doctors, and lawyers. But because of the financial burden COVID-19 caused my students’ families, my school wound up closing permanently in May of 2020. I was lucky enough to be transferred to another school, but last year, they announced that they would return to in-person schooling for the 2020-2021 school year. I was legitimately worried that I was going to die last year, but I survived. But I did, and this year, even with the Delta variant in full force, you can too. Here are six ways to survive teaching during the pandemic this year:
1. Don’t stress.
Stress weakens your immune system, and there’s nothing worse than a weak immune system right now. To keep your immune system in tip-top shape, find ways to de-stress in your free time, like taking a walk or run, reading, knitting, or listening to music.
2. Enforce proper sanitation and social distancing.
The janitorial staff at my school did a great job of ensuring that they cleaned all areas of the school building periodically throughout the day. I was lucky, though – there are plenty of horror stories of schools with far worse sanitation practices. Make sure that you make sure that your students wash their hands and social distance in the classroom as much as possible in order to protect everyone from COVID-19!
3. Take personal and sick days.
This year will be overwhelming, and by the time October rolls around, you may feel like you’ve been in school for six months already. This year more than ever, you should take your sick days and use any paid time off that you accrue. When you start to feel like you’re on the verge of “losing it,” take a personal day or two if you can! You’ll come back to school feeling refreshed.
4. Be extra kind to your students.
Some kids left school in March 2020 as kindergartners and are returning in Fall 2021 as second graders. They spent a whole year learning foundational skills virtually, which isn’t the easiest learning method for some students. Many students had to deal with distractions in their homes, lack of access to technology for school lessons, or even relatives dying from COVID-19. That’s a lot for any student to go through, so show your students extra empathy and care this year.
5. Don’t debate the COVID-19 vaccine at your workplace.
Depending on your school’s rules, you and your coworkers may not be required to have the COVID-19 vaccine. Still, don’t argue with your coworkers about the vaccine or ask who did or didn’t receive it. Everyone has reasons for their decisions, but it’s best to keep them out of the workplace.
6. Make time for fun activities in your class.
Being in school is not only stressful for teachers – it can be uncomfortable for students as well. Those who are just now going back to in-person learning just spent over a year at home. They’ll need some time to socialize with other students, so don’t be afraid to have some fun to break the ice in your classroom!
Being a teacher can be stressful, but being a teacher during a global pandemic is 10 times more stressful. As you return to school, remember that your health and well-being need to come first. Try not to stress – you will get through this school year!