With school year in flux, Vt. teachers, administrators forced to remain flexible

Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 6:02 PM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont students learned Tuesday they will be going back to school after September 8th, giving districts and schools a bit more time to plan what learning methods they will use this fall. While some teachers and administrators have raised concerns about returning to classrooms, others we spoke with say they are keeping an open mind about the hybrid model many schools are adopting.

“I am hopeful the remote will be way better than it was in the spring,” said Marie Ayer, a 3rd grade teacher at Richmond Elementary School.

Half of her students will attend in person on Monday and Tuesday and the other half on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday is reserved for deep cleaning.

Ayer would typically create lesson plans for the entire school year over the summer, but this year she has done none of that. "We as teachers won't know what we are teaching and how we're teaching in this model for another few weeks or more, so it feels uncomfortable. It feels like a lot of anxiety to not already know my class schedule, how I'm going and to not have control over what I'm teaching," Ayer said.

Many teachers with younger students of their own are also questioning what to do. In the Mount Mansfield Unified Union School District, teachers have until Monday to say if they will be returning to the classroom, or not.

"The hybrid model obviously creates some challenges in terms of what am I going to do with my students, my children, when they are not in in-person school," said Joe Resteghani, the principal at Champlain Elementary School in Burlington.

He says they are surveying families to determine which days work best for sending their kids back. His school is also waiting for solid numbers to see how many students and teachers are opting for a fully remote model. He hopes the hybrid model will work better than going remote last spring. "We are trying to utilize the skill set of all of our teachers and staff in the building to be creative," Resteghani said.

Ayer says in her district, all teachers in the same grade will follow the same lesson plans to help create a seamless transition if the school closes or a teacher has to take a week or two off. At this time, it is unknown if some teachers will only instruct students remotely, or if teachers will have to do both. "Right now as teachers and districts, we have no idea. We are waiting for the numbers to come in," Ayer said.

Those numbers are answers from families and staff members responding to if they will be attending school in person, remotely, or not at all.

Ayer says that in the past, this would be extremely stressful and cause her lots of anxiety, but the pandemic has taught her anything can change in a moment and being flexible is the best way to get through this.

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