Teachers Worry About Keeping Students Safe, Connecting With Classes As Plans For Fall Are Announced

Jul 23, 2020

  

Child wearing mask
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As plans are announced for how school will look this fall, local teachers worry about keeping their students safe and connecting with their students.

Renée Apolin is a second grade language teacher at Heritage Elementary. Her classes are scheduled in the morning and in the afternoon. And she wonders how to keep her students safe. 

"How am I going to have 27 a.m. students and then sufficiently sanitize everything to have my 27 p.m. students?” she said.

 

Apolin is also concerned about how to keep her seven and eight year old students socially distance and make them keep their masks on and wash their hands. 

One solution she has is possibly creating classroom jobs such as checking temperatures, enforcing social distancing and wearing masks. 

 

Online schooling poses some other challenges. Professor Scott Hunsaker is the Director of Undergraduate Studies at Utah State University. He worries about the interaction between teachers and students which he considers vital.  

"If teachers and schools want students to succeed, they might need to spend some time simply teaching 'how is it that you go about being an independent learner in an online environment? What are the skills that you need? What are some strategies that you can use?' And then teach those strategies,” he said.

Hunsaker is also worried about the social skills children learn in the classroom, such as working as a team negotiating and making friends. 

Elementary school teacher Apolin has suggestions for that. 

 

She’s used many online activities to help engage her students, some of which she has paid for out of her own pocket. 

"We did once a week, zoom meetings," Apolin said. "If I have to do online in the future, I would definitely increase that more.”

One activity the kids enjoyed she said was a scavenger hunt. 

She gave instructions in Spanish, such as to find something blue and round. 

The kids then had to find an item that fit the description and show it to the class. 

Apolin said it’s helpful to do these activities when she’s established a relationship with the parents and children involved.  

Doing this online with students she’s never met may be more challenging.