Every job faces its own Covid-19 difficulties, but there should be no comparison guilting. Every job is different. Teachers face comparison attacks, with no consideration of the uniqueness found in the school environment.
Teachers are not taking an extended vacation. They’re working around the clock to teach children safely whether in school or remotely.
Some parents and critics are expressing frustration and scapegoating teachers, but it’s the virus they should be worried about.
Several op-eds and professional groups have put fuel on the fire with such comparisons. They’re demanding that schools should open, and teachers should quit complaining, put on their masks, and get back to work.
Here are few jobs that have been compared to teaching.
The American Academy of Pediatricians initially said teachers should return. They backed away somewhat, but still say schools should open safely.
Because they’re doctors that specialize in the health of children, we expect them to discuss child safety. But pediatricians might not understand the safety problems found in schools.
How does school safety compare to a visit to the pediatrician?
Pediatricians can set up controlled safety protocols that are easily followed. They see one child at a time. Visits are usually short. Even if there’re several pediatricians in one office complex, each can easily monitor who they see and how they address that child’s health needs.
Buildings are clean, can be disinfected after every patient visit, and air flow can be monitored. Air filters are replaced when deemed necessary.
Children don’t need to eat lunch at the office. Pediatricians don’t have to worry about transportation. The small staff that work in the office work together with the doctor to ensure the safety of each young patient and their parents.
The parent and child can be scheduled to wait outside until they’re seen. There will likely be temperature checks. Doctors can wear PPE and take extra precautions.
They can also monitor and trace any child or parent who gets sick.
Working with one child and parent is different than working with large numbers of children who congregate in classrooms that may or may not be well-ventilated.
Nurses have been frontline heroes during the pandemic. Their jobs have been made more difficult due to the chaos and this country’s unpreparedness facing this disease from the start.
Some say nurses signed on to danger. I don’t believe wanting a career where you help those who are ill, means you automatically signed onto dealing with a pandemic. But nurses and doctors are dedicated to their professions. Sadly nurses and doctors have lost their lives to Covid-19.
Nurses and doctors are working to eradicate the disease and save lives. It’s an environment and situation they have been thrust into. They didn’t have any other options. Those who are sick with the coronavirus come to them after they’ve been infected.
This is far different from schools. Those who run schools must weigh how they will prevent children and teachers from infection. Adults can control the opening of schools.
The action of educators to make safe schools during this pandemic, will also ease the burden of doctors and nurses in the hospitals by lowering the number of sick children and adults.
Cramped in an airplane creates its own set of problems, but unlike students that move around and come close to each other, passengers are for the most part contained in their seats.
Flight attendants have still voiced concerns that passengers not being screened as well as they should be for the coronavirus.
We’re told the air flow in airplanes is good. Some social distancing takes place by spacing seats.
If your job or family situation demands you have to fly, you may have no choice, but you might also avoid it.
Grocery Store Workers
Those who work in grocery stores keep the shelves stocked with items that will keep us fed and healthy during this difficult time. We owe them our gratitude.
They’re taking risks by working, but most stores have standardized safety protocols that help keep workers and shoppers safe.
Those stocking the food, and clerks, wear masks, social distance, and plexiglass barriers divide customers from clerks during check out.
Carts are usually cleaned before each use, or disinfectant wipes are made available for customers to clean the handles. Most grocery stores are in big airy buildings.
This type of organization is much different than coordinating how hundreds of children will come together in cramped school environments.
Working in Retail
Some have argued that teachers worked in stores over the summer, so why are they afraid to work in school?
Working in a store is also different in that you only face a few people at a time, and you are not responsible for the individual who chooses to come into a store to shop.
Teachers always feel responsible for their students. They don’t want to have to wonder if they didn’t catch the child who removed their mask, who later became ill. They don’t want their students to have to worry about each other either. There are so many unknowns still about this disease.
During this pandemic, every job, every career and profession, must rely on good safety measures. We have to support each other and express our gratitude for the work that’s done by everyone to keep life moving along as normal as possible.
But it’s a disservice, unkind, and even potentially dangerous to criticize teachers and administrators if they decide it’s safer to provide remote instruction. The school environment is difficult to control, prevention is everything, and it is irresponsible to set teachers and children up for catching an unpredictable disease.
Educators must consider the safety measures to keep children and teachers from catching the virus. Their goal is to teach and keep their students safe during this difficult time.
Instead of guilting, see how to assist teachers from afar. I’m sure they would appreciate your support.
Paul Bonner says
Schools are a petrie dish alive with a wide variety of viruses and bacteria. The general public seems clueless about this. Illness is an ongoing threat to teachers and adding Covid to the mix is unreasonable. Our district is using virtual learning the first 9 weeks. During this time policy makers should be focusing on mask compliance to really flatten the curve so that schools are much safer when students return.
Nancy Bailey says
More time to think this through and get a handle on the disease seems wise to me. Thanks for commenting, Paul.
I have been following a thread on a local social media site dealing with the reopening of the local high school on a hybrid schedule where all teachers are required to teach on site in a blended in person- online and remote modes at once, requiring different lesson plans dependent on the mode of instruction. Forget the difficulty of planning for 4-5 different classes in house let alone in a blended and remote mode. The school is in no way prepared to meet the standards of safety that are necessary to stay safe in such an environment. The teachers are almost unanimous in their objection to the plan which was formulated without their input. In fact, at the direction of the school, they spent the summer planning for a fully remote start to school. The comments online run the gamut from supportive to “do your job” the way every other essential worker is. Thank you for writing this post. I suppose I am not surprised at some folks discounting the voices of teachers. There has bee a dismissal of teachers’ professionalism for years.
Nancy Bailey says
Well said. Thank you! I find it interesting how teachers were saints last spring but that quickly changed over the summer when they raised concerns about going back to work.
Lol every teacher doesn’t want to work. Let the kids suffer. They did nothing to help remote parenting over the summer and now that they are unprepared to do it again so they should be back in school to hold them accountable. Don’t like it? Go find a different profession.
Nancy Bailey says
Joanie, Something tells me you would be complaining about teachers even if they were teaching back in school. Wonder what you’re really angry about, or if you’re really Joanie.
Rick B. says
Every armchair educator that makes these ludicrous career comparisons should take a week vacation to spend the time as a (much needed) substitute teacher in a secondary school. The difference between working in a grocery store, commercial airline, bank, box store, hospital, or post office – and a public school will become more than obvious. If you are unable to do this here’s what you would have found unique about the teaching profession/school experience:
The antithesis of social distancing
Impulsive, immature, uncooperative, and even belligerent “customer” behaviors
Endless “customer” complaints
Unsettling and even uncontrollable large group dynamics
Hot, stuffy, dirty work environments
An unrecognizably debased, watered down, bare bones version of the “customer” experience
that will make you wonder, “Is it worth it?”
For your “customers” it will be a lot like going to Disneyworld with all the rides closed down their beloved characters nowhere to be found, and physically constraining rules that take boredom to a whole new level. An experience that will leave “customers” begging to go home.
Nancy Bailey says
I couldn’t agree more, Rick! All of the critics can write what should be done from the safety of their homes. They should all roll up their sleeves and make some school visitations. I’ve yet to see any of the experts do this.
Thanks, as always.