During the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers have adapted to significant changes in how students are educated. They’ve learned to use applications such as Zoom while undergoing the possible dangers of being an essential worker. As Mollie Bentley, a teacher at Father Lopez High School, explains, teaching involves making connections with students. This process can be exceptionally difficult over Zoom.
Her Campus (HC): What precautions has the school taken against COVID-19?
Mollie Bentley (MB): Some precautions include taking the faculty, staff and students’ temperatures as they enter school, not allowing outside visitors or field trips, incorporating air purifiers in every classroom and cleaning desks every day. Fortunately, at Father Lopez High School, students and families can choose between virtual or in-person classes. Because of this, classrooms are outfitted with the necessary equipment for Zoom. In addition, cleaning supplies are in the classroom for students and staff if they choose to clean their area, and I use air disinfecting spray in my room at the end of every day. There is also a new software installation for digital student passes to be out of the classroom. The software is programmed for the max number of students in halls, restrooms, etc.
HC: Do you believe beginning school at the height of the pandemic was a wise decision? Why or why not?
MB: At first, I would have to say that I did not think it was a wise decision. Now, I think it was best for everyone that we are mostly in-person. The students learn best in-person and need the social interaction with their peers. Additionally, working parents need their students at school, where they receive help from their teachers. By resuming in-person learning, teachers also feel as though they can reach and build relationships with their students. If we can relate to one another, learning a new algebra concept can be less daunting. On Zoom, I believe it isn’t easy to be sure a student correctly understands the material.
HC: Has technology had a severe impact on students’ ability to continue their education amidst a pandemic?
MB: Most of our students on distance learning programs have access to the internet and the devices they need to succeed. We only have a few issues. However, the school has provided devices for those who do not have access. I have one student without internet connection, and it is impacting their learning experience tremendously. I expect them to be returning to school soon.
HC: Have you noticed specific differences in your teaching strategies this year?
MB: Definitely! I have become more proficient in all things digital. I have many devices necessary to reach my students in the classroom and those at home on distance learning. It requires that I use three different computers, an iPad, two televisions and a webcam. This combination allows all students to see what is happening in the teaching platform and the classroom.
HC: Do you feel safe in the school’s high-risk environment? Does the rest of the staff?
MB: I feel as safe as an essential worker can be during a pandemic. We always wear masks and social distance as much as possible. I think the rest of the staff feels the same. We all hope to be offered the COVID-19 vaccine soon.