Our pandemic life

Our+pandemic+life

Long ago, in a different world, something happened that changed the lives of everyone in the world. A virus became a pandemic.  Charlie Baker, the governor of Massachusetts announced that all schools, public and private, must shut down for two weeks due to this new virus called Covid 19.  Originally the plan was to shut the schools down from March 17 to April 7th yet extension upon extensions were made and students finally received the news that they would be staying home, learning online, till the end of the school year after it became clear that the new virus was more contagious and deadly than anyone could have imagined

The college board cancelled SAT testing and colleges had to change their application process. The senior class lost all their final goodbyes- prom, Mr. Mansfield, the all-night party and even graduation. It took away freshmens’ second half of their first year in high school, the chance for sophomores to improve and evolve, and it increased a junior’s stress and created anxiety about standardized testing.

Now imagine being in your teacher’s shoes. A teacher who has to watch their students go through such an emotional roller coaster without being able to help to the extent they could before the era of Covid. Along with the inability to provide emotional support to their students, teachers also had to quickly adapt to more abstract ways of teaching, learning how to use new technology like Google classroom, and meet.  They felt stress when many of their students simply dropped out of sight. Our teachers had to find a way to provide resources, offer tech help (even though they themselves were having issues they struggled to solve), and figuring out ways to teach and test kids on content. Yet teaching and technology have not been the only challenge for teachers.  All over the country teachers have been getting laid off or receiving little emotional support from their employers and communities. Only a handful of schools have been providing adequate aid. 

Yet in Mansfield our superintendent committed to keeping every teaching job.  After the initial confusion Mansfield even hired more teachers from other districts where layoffs were common. The district administrative team roared into action, purchasing thousands of laptops for distribution to students at home, and assisting the cafeteria staff in providing thousands of bag lunches to students.  From interviews with faculty it also became clear that in order to meet technology needs the district offered a lot of professional development in different online learning platforms, increased funding for summer institutes for departments to meet and discuss online learning and were more lenient with teachers who needed to take sick time.

Teachers say that they have definitely noticed an uptick in student anxiety, and that some of the district professional development was about how to help students and themselves with fear and worry.  At first they tried to be easier with grades and assignments, but that now teachers feel as though their improved skills with technology and the massive amount of time spent creating new lessons has allowed them to hold students to the same high standards as they had in the past. Best of all, the comradery among colleagues has grown even stronger with everyone pitching in to help where needed.

Fortunately here in Mansfield  teachers and the students have been taken care of and given resources to support themselves in these tough times. The struggle against the Covid virus is still ongoing. Although vaccines are available many teachers have not yet been able to schedule one but it does seem as if maybe life will get back to closer to normal by next fall.  Hopefully, in the future, we will all be more prepared in case a disaster like this happens again.