I wear a mask every day to work. I guess sometimes it’s a bit of a drag, but really, it’s not that big of a deal. I don’t wear a mask to protect myself from getting COVID; I wear it to protect the students whom I love and the colleagues whom I adore from getting anything I might be carrying. There are times I can take the mask off if I make sure to distance myself 6 feet or more from my students — like when I’m reading them a story, or working at the board. I know many teachers who have been very creative about making the space in their classrooms and our schools viable for students to do the same: spread out and learn from a distance of 6 feet, enabling students to take off the mask for a break. When I go to the store, I also wear a mask. It would seem rude to not do so when the store help are required to wear a mask to protect me; this does not make me a “sheep,” it makes me compassionate. Perhaps kids don’t get as sick as more vulnerable populations, but JCSD#1 employs many people and many students have family members who are more susceptible; let’s think of those community members when deciding if a little discomfort is worth it!
So, I guess I write this letter to say thanks. Firstly, I would like to thank the medical personnel in our town, who know far more than I about how to fight this pandemic and who are on the front lines, constantly learning the science of how to combat the spread of this virus. Specifically, I would like to publicly thank Dr. Schueler, whose reasonable and thoughtful guidance has enabled us to stay in school. Online school last spring was not the best learning situation for many kids, including my own. Secondly, I would like to thank our school leaders who have facilitated our schools reopening calmly and swiftly and without much trouble, who have led by example and who continue to think of creative approaches for all students of our district to keep learning. Lastly and most importantly, I would like to thank the vast majority of students who wear their masks every day politely and without trouble. This can be thankless and a bit uncomfortable, but I feel proud to teach students who value empathy and scholarship above a slight sacrifice! I am excited that these students will change this world into a place where compassion is to be lauded not criticized. Let’s stay in school!
Buffalo High School English Teacher