Record editorial: Teachers, unsurprisingly, are shining during this crisis
It will be at least another five weeks until students return to school halls in Summit County after state officials on Monday extended the dismissal of schools to May 1 due to the continuing threat COVID-19 presents.
But that doesn’t mean class isn’t in session.
Quite the contrary, in fact. Far from chalking up the rest of the school year as a lost cause, another victim of the coronavirus, Summit County’s educators have worked tirelessly to ensure their students are still getting an education even as they spend their days at home.
They have completely upended the educational model, working from home to provide instruction to students through online platforms and take-home materials, a herculean task requiring teachers and administrators to maneuver hundreds of moving parts. They are even ensuring students who rely on schools for meals — and there are, unfortunately, too many of them — are still getting fed.
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And they’ve done it despite having hardly any advance notice and under some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable. It is a remarkable effort worthy of our admiration and one that highlights, once again, the vital role educators play in our community.
We should not, however, be surprised that teachers are stepping up to meet the challenge. After all, we see their dedication every day in ways both large and small. It would have been foolish to assume their commitment to help their students learn would be reduced simply because they’re not meeting together in the same classroom.
Take Mark Etheridge, a kindergarten teacher at Trailside Elementary School. During his time away from his class, he’s recorded videos of himself and sent them to his students to let them know he misses them. Sue Shuppy, an art teacher at South Summit High School, meanwhile, is attempting to arrange for students to pick up art supplies to avoid flooding them with writing assignments.
There are dozens of other examples from teachers all over Summit County.
Is it perfect? Of course not. Anyone suddenly forced to telecommute can attest to the challenges that are inherent in such a drastic change. The degree of difficulty is high, and no system quickly put together can entirely replace in-class learning, especially because school is about much more than what students learn in a book. Parents and students should exercise patience when they stumble upon the kinks.
The fact our schools are making it work at all is a testament to our educators, most of whom are underpaid and all of whom care deeply about their students.
Some day, hopefully this spring, students and teachers will return to classrooms. When they do, it will be a joyous occasion. But in the meantime, our community can be assured that, thanks to the heroism of educators, our students’ time at home will not be time wasted.
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Our view: Against a once-unimaginable backdrop, and with little margin for error, county officials have made painful but prudent decisions in an attempt to spare us from the worst of the pandemic.