COVID-19 presents unique needs for teachers
By Jessie Wagoner
McPHERSON—McPherson Public Schools will be back in session on Sept. 1, and teachers are scrambling to prepare their classrooms for the upcoming school year. COVID-19 has posed unique challenges for teachers, forcing them to figure out how to maintain a classroom environment while also balancing the hygiene and social distancing requirements brought on by COVID-19.
School districts have taken multiple steps to change the environment to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Extra furniture has been removed from classrooms, as have items with fabric coverings. Cleaning schedules have been implemented, and the school day now includes time set aside each hour for hand washing.
Individual teachers are also attempting to modify their classrooms and instruction techniques to mitigate the spread of the virus. As teachers prepare their classrooms, they can incur significant personal expenses. Some teachers in McPherson have created Amazon wish lists so community members can help by purchasing items off the list.
Kristen Rardon, kindergarten teacher at Eisenhower Elementary School, has lap desks on her wishlist at https://amzn.to/3kwD1v7. The lap desks are small enough for the kindergarteners to use easily and move around the classroom but provide them with a surface of their own to use. Michelle Michealson, pre-K teacher at Washingto,n has a similar item, flat trays that are easy to clean on her wishlist at https://amzn.to/30L2E3m.
“I teach third grade at Eisenhower,” Shannon Shaw said. “Some of the things I am looking at to help with safety are the mesh bags to hang from desks for their supplies, individual dry erase boards so they can all have their own and the carpet spot circles to help in spacing students. I really appreciate the support of the community during this trying time. Thank you.”
Shaw brings up the importance of social distancing and how teachers can provide visual cues to students to help maintain the distance. Shaw has carpet spot circles on her list at https://amzn.to/3kACZSR. Other teachers have indicated colored tape is on their list to help create boxes for students to sit in and lines for them to stand on.
When it comes to teaching music, there is a lot of hands-on learning involved. It is nearly impossible to learn to play an instrument without touching it. Aubrey Hall, music teacher at Washington Elementary School is putting together music packs for her students so the students can still have musical experiences without sharing instruments. Her list at https://amzn.to/3ixNl41 is full of items to fill a music pack, things like egg shakers, wrist bracelets with bells on them and dancing scarves.
Ashley McAllister, fifth grade teacher at Roosevelt Elementary Schoo,l is used to teaching her students to share. During a typical school year, the classroom shares items like the fraction manipulatives on her list at https://amzn.to/2DItqAF. This year, sharing won’t be nearly as common as usual.
“I’d love to be able to have a class set of the fraction manipulatives for each kiddo to use,” McAllister said. “We normally have one set that we share during lessons, but now that sharing items is not feasible with distancing and safety guidelines, it would be beneficial for each kid to use their own.”
Jalaynna Beers, first grade teacher at Inman, is hoping to add books to her classroom library before school begins. She explains that books have to sit out of circulation for a longer period of time this year due to COVID. With books out of circulation, she needs a larger selection for students to choose from. Her book list can be found at https://amzn.to/2XQHRJA.
Teachers are pushing their creativity skills to the limit this year as they come up with ideas to make their classrooms workable amidst the new guidelines. They have all expressed how much the community support means to them. In McPherson, local businesses like Twice Told Tales, The Bookshelf and Simply Goods Overstock have offered teacher discounts for educators to help offset some of the expenses, as well.
Additionally, Trinity Lutheran Church in McPherson is organizing a drive by donation drive to assist educators with cleaning items to help in their classrooms. The donation drive is from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 17, at Trinity Lutheran Church. Items they are looking to collect include antibacterial cleaning wipes, antibacterial liquid hand soap, masks for adults and kids with elastic loops, Kleenex tissues, and monetary donations for the purchase of approved hand sanitizer.
For those interested in helping area teachers with their classroom needs, they can purchase items off their wish lists or they can contact schools and teachers directly for a wish list.
Resources to assist teachers and students
Several local businesses and community organizations are offering support to teachers and students. From store discounts to donation drives, all of the efforts will help students and faculty return to school ready to learn in a safe environment.
- Trinity Lutheran Church is collecting COVID-19 preventative items for schools. Donations can be dropped off from 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 17, at the church. The following items are being collected, antibacterial cleaning wipes, antibacterial liquid hand soap, masks for adults and kids with elastic loops, Kleenex tissues, monetary donations for the purchase of approved hand sanitizer.
- Twice Told Tales, Simply Goods Overstock and The Bookshelf are all offering discounts to educators on their purchases.