Local teachers are getting their classes ready, but there’s a lot more at stake this year. The COVID-19 pandemic means teachers have to make a few adjustments. One is up for the challenge, and trying to make the best out of a difficult situation. Even after 25 years of teaching, this year will be a learning experience for Micah Siegel.
“I can’t say I’ve always been excited in the middle of July to come back, but this year is unique,” Siegel said.
Siegel is getting her Hayward Elementary classroom ready. Part of that is a lot of cleaning, and moving the desks six feet apart to help her third graders distance.
“Our building principal is making our plexiglass shields, so if we need to push desks together, there will be dividers for that,” Siegel said.
Brady: How do you keep them socially distant when they’re active?
Siegel: Right, I think that starting the school year, that’s going to be so much of our conversations of why we need to do this.
Siegel is ready to return to class, and believes in-person learning will be more beneficial for her students than remote learning.
“They need to be with us. They need us as their teachers,” Siegel said.
However, other teachers are voicing concerns about how to safely return. A few spoke up during public input at this week’s school board meeting. The Sioux Falls School District now says it “expects” students and staff to wear masks, but doesn’t require them.
“I teach speech, public speaking. Which means it’s seldom quiet in my classroom and it also means the droplets are coming out of everyone’s mouth all the time. I don’t know how that’ll translate to six feet apart or mask-wearing if you’re unwilling to be the unpopular ones and make masks a requirement in our buildings,” Jennifer Bergen Gabor said.”We should not be gambling. We need to be mandating,” Jackie Beilke said.
The district says it will “remind and provide students and staff with masks if they don’t have them,” however, it “will not deny access to education if a student or staff member does not choose to wear one.”
School is set to begin in Sioux Falls on August 27th. As for Siegel, she says she feels good about the district’s plan and will evolve with any of its adjustments.
“There’s no replacement for that classroom-teacher with their students and I think we get to be here. So, let’s follow those and do the best we can,” Siegel said.