Reopening Plan Causes Shifts in Work Locations for H.S. Teachers
Pandemic forces some teachers to move online, others to transfer to entirely new schools in CUSD.
December 14, 2020
From learning difficulties to internet troubles, online learning has been difficult for many students who’ve opted to remain online; however, they aren’t alone in their struggles. Some teachers made the decision to continue teaching fully online while others were forced to completely move schools.
Many of these teachers have chosen to stay home due to pre-existing conditions or their families physical health.
“I had underlying health conditions that put me at a greater risk for serious complications from catching the virus,” said AP Environmental teacher Emily Price.
With decades of experience teaching in-person, making the commitment to teach online for an entire year was a tough choice, especially for teachers who had little technological knowledge prior to the pandemic.
“I knew that I needed to reduce my contact with others so the choice was clear. I also felt confident that I would be able to successfully teach 100% virtually,” said Price.
During such turbulent times, some teachers were forced to make the transition to a new school. P.E. teachers, and some elective teachers, were involuntarily transferred to teach in CUSD’s extended learning program in elementary schools.
The program allows for smaller class sizes in those schools by having morning and afternoon classes. The students who are not with their teacher can opt-in for the extended learning portion of the day, which needs supervision from teaching staff.
But the idea comes at a price. High school students lose electives and P.E. opportunities.
Ryan Norgren, digital photo and yearbook adviser, now teaches only one section of digital photography. He used to have four. A school board policy revision about graduation requirements decreased demand for art electives in high school and facilitated the shifting of staff to elementary schools.
“Now I’m a 5th grade paraeducator in an outdoor classroom under an easy-up responsible for 20 5th graders to ensure they complete their Canvas tasks,” Norgren said.
Many of these teachers were informed last-minute with very little time to prepare for their transfer to a completely new school.
“I received a phone call 2 weeks before school started to inform me that the district was transferring me to elementary school. It was a mandatory transfer; it was not optional. I have taught in this district for 12 years, and I have never had this happen to me before,” said former Ceramics teacher Krista Rodriguez.
Being told with only two weeks until school started that she needed to transfer schools was understandably very frustrating.
“To be honest, I was very angry when I received the phone call, and I wanted to cry. I was so upset. I have been teaching high school art in CUSD for 12 years, and I really enjoy my job. I had been looking forward to seeing the students at SJHHS. I had worked all summer to write new art lessons in Canvas to prepare for distance learning. I had also spent many hours working with other high school art teachers to prepare to teach art with all the new COVID guidelines. I had spent my whole summer preparing for a job I no longer had,” said Rodriguez.
Thanks to previous experience being an art instructor in a K-8 school, Rodriguez had some knowledge on her new position.
“When we first returned to school in person, I worked as an Extended Learning teacher for 5th grade students. Students in elementary spend part of the day with their classroom teacher and part of the day with an extended learning teacher,” said Rodriguez. “[The students] are learning all about the elements of art, art from different cultures and time periods, and different artistic techniques.”
While not completely foreign to Rodriguez from her work at SJHHS, she was still required to write entirely new lessons under such short notice.
“It’s hard to do a good job teaching when things are constantly changing. I wasn’t told which elementary school I’d be at or what I would be teaching, until a couple of days before school started. Very stressful. COVID guidelines keep changing as well, so it’s a lot to keep up with. There have been so many obstacles, I can’t even list them all,” said Rodriguez.
Even after this school year comes to a close, it’s not a guarantee that Rodriguez will make a return to SJHHS.
“At first, the district told me that I would just be at Oso Grande for the school year, but recently the superintendent sent out an email saying that state and county officials expected things to continue like this at schools for the next 12-18 months. So it looks like I will probably be at Oso Grande next school year again,” said Rodriguez.
The transitions that these teachers have had to make in little less than a year is unfathomable. From quickly adapting to a new way of teaching to adjusting all of their old lesson plans and even needing to switch to an entirely new school, these teachers have managed to both overcome all of these obstacles and thrive.
“SJHHS teachers have put in multiple hours during the school day AND beyond, learning a new management program and (for some) new textbooks,” said Kristen Osborn.
“Many of our students have adjusted from learning in the classroom to learning from home,” said Osborn. “All of this has presented unique challenges, but nothing that we have not been able to work through and problem solve.”