For some teachers, every day feels like another nightmare. For others, it seems just like any other year, just with masks.
Districts in several states have already started reopening for in-person instruction, remote learning or both. Teachers in these places report facing a range of emotions and situations — for which their teacher training programs never prepared them.
In some places, school reopenings have been marred by upheaval, with COVID-19 outbreaks already forcing hundreds of students and staff to quarantine. In other districts, teachers say business has continued nearly as usual, only with added precautions. HuffPost spoke with teachers around the country whose schools have reopened, and their experiences are especially instructive as other districts continue to navigate and negotiate their reopening plans.
Smith Jean-Philippe, a high school biology teacher in Maryville, Tennessee, has been back at school for about a week, and he said everything feels fine.
“It’s a totally normal year. Or whatever the new norm is, just with heightened awareness and hand-washing,” said the classroom teacher of 19 years.
Kids in his district are not required to wear masks, but they have chosen to for the most part. Buildings are half as full as they normally would be, as the district is starting out with a staggered attendance schedule.
“I have my mask on, and for the most part I feel safe,” Jean-Philippe said.
There have already been at least 39 reported COVID-19 cases associated with school reopenings in the state, according to The Tennessean.
Other teachers around the country have protested in-person reopening plans. The American Federation of Teachers, a national teachers union representing 1.7 million members, has even said it would potentially support “safety strikes.” In July, an Arizona teacher died from COVID-19 after teaching in a classroom with two other educators.
High school computer science teacher Suzy Lebo in South Avon,...