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Dealing with COVID as a teacher and parent

 

Last updated 1/6/2021 at 11:51am



Jill Cammon said she has seen many changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the Spanish teacher and assistant swim coach at Havre High School. 

Before the pandemic, she incorporated group activities, games, songs and conversations to provide students with Spanish speaking opportunities, she said. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, she spends a lot of time on the computer following up with students and attempting to create virtual lessons.

“I like the students to practice conversational material, but that is quite a bit more challenging this year,” said Cammon.

 

Logistically and emotionally

  Cammon said she was frustrated at the beginning of the school year. It took her several attempts to organize her Google Classroom, socially distance students, plan for virtual students and modify any previous lessons to this year’s schedule, she said. 

  “I teach from my corner a lot. I’m not thrilled about that, but it’s pretty tough to teach a foreign language if the students can’t understand what I’m saying,” said Cammon. “I stay in my little area so I can teach without a mask. At the beginning of the year, I didn’t know how to Zoom, Google Meet, share my screen with the students at home, use the document camera, or make videos and fillable worksheets. It’s been an awkward and time-consuming process, but I’m getting there. I still have a lot to learn.”


She said at the end of the first quarter she made a conscious decision to stress less. To accomplish this, she minimizes work on the weekends and evenings and instead she spends more time with her family. Cammon has three children in school and said she stresses out a lot about their education and safety and that can make it difficult to concentrate on her own work, especially on their virtual days.

“I have stopped worrying so much and asking so many questions,” she said.

“I still have endless questions about tomorrow, next week, month and year as I am a planner and like to have as many details for different scenarios worked out as possible before anything happens. I can’t continue to be that person in meetings anymore, it stresses me out and probably drives others a little crazy.”

She said her colleagues have all had their ups and downs as well. 

  “I’m pretty impressed with how flexible and creative my colleagues are,” she said. “We teach different subjects, so I think we have different challenges. I think a lot of us are concerned about how much content we are able to get to our students, if they are learning what we are teaching and if it is sticking. A looming worry is how we are going to fill in for missed content if we can get back to normal.”


 

Effects of COVID-19 on students

Cammon said she believes her students are doing well when physically in school however, she does have concerns when they are not in school. 

“They know the rules and follow them pretty well. All kinds of sanitation wipes, sprays and cleaners are available for them to use,” she said.  “I am concerned for most of them academically, physically, and emotionally when they are not present in school. I worry about students dealing with depression, mental health and anxiety alone on their virtual days. I am concerned for students that have difficult family situations. Many students are completely overwhelmed with school, home, work and social life or lack there of.”


 

Misinformation, holidays and case numbers

Cammon approaches misinformation by allowing students to have their own opinions and encouraging them to research facts to back them up with several sources like they would a school research paper. She said they do not spend much of their already limited time on this subject. 

“I have two in-person days a week to teach. That is my focus,” she said.

  She said she is not overly worried about the holidays as she feels people will spend time with family and friends and hopefully, people will stay home if they are sick. 

 

A day in the life

  Cammon said she is usually at school before 7:30 a.m. She spends her day teaching and checking in with her students during her prep period. She usually works through lunch and finishes some things up after school. After that she goes to swim practice and gets home between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m.

In Cammon’s opinion, school is the safest place for students to be, she said. 

“We take a lot of COVID-19 precautions and other safety issues are managed just by being in school,” she said. “They are educated, supervised and fed in school. Sick students and employees need to stay home. On that note, community members that are able be substitute staff should apply so sick employees can stay home and present staff won’t have to sacrifice their in-school work time to cover.


“I think students need to be back in school full time,” she continued. “… I think it is time to make face-to-face instruction essential.”

 
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