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Educators say staying safe while teaching in a pandemic is easier said than done

Posted at 6:32 PM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 19:32:07-05

KILLEEN, TX — Safety these days looks like wearing a mask and staying a good distance away. But when you’re teaching in a classroom, wearing a mask is only step one.

Jennifer Lee has been teaching at Harker Heights High School for a decade. When the district welcomed students back to school, she had some new questions about her old job.

“As a teacher, you know, we had to figure out, “Ok. How do we accept printed out papers? How do we go about making old fashioned school be safe?"” Lee questioned.

As it turns out, spraying Lysol on classwork and letting it sit for a few days does the trick.

But it’s only one of her defenses in the classroom against this relentless virus.

“Don’t lay your head one the desk. Your face is covered with a mask. Your mask has germs,” Lee said, speaking as she would to her students. “I should be the only one handling those common classroom items that used to be commonly passed around."

The classroom decisions tripled for her this year, she said.

But how is it that just up the road in Temple, schools remain open with few positive cases? Here a hint. Those decisions Temple teachers make are vital to the school’s success.

“We don't always have all of the answers,” Bobby Ott, the superintendent of Temple ISD, said. “But sometimes our teachers, in talking with their medical professionals or research on their own, they’ve come up with some really good ideas.”

It’s these ideas Tiffany Vestal sees every day at the helm of Western Hills Elementary school.

“We just listen to the needs that they have, and then we meet them in the best way that we can,” Vestal said.

It’s no secret we all respect teachers for what they do, but it's the new found appreciation, Mrs. Lee says, that keeps her going.

“”You know what, you guys are really doing an amazing job,” and to hear that from our students, it’s absolutely just such a blessing,” she said.

Mrs. Lee says teaching students in 2020 is similar to running a marathon. It’s both hard work and mentally exhausting, and breaks like the ones they’re on now is their time to catch their breath and stop for a cup of Gatorade.