Going back to school virtually or in-person… what do teachers prefer?

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– Many school districts have announced their plans for school in the fall, but what do teachers think of them?

6 News spoke with two teachers, one who will be teaching only online for the start of the school year, and another who is teaching both in-person and online students.

Stephanie Allen is a fourth and fifth-grade teacher at Morrice Elementary School. She says the school announced that they will be holding in-person classes five days a week, as well as offering online learning.

Allen says she will be teaching every student on her roster, whether they’re in the classroom or online, and she still has some questions.

“The program that we are teaching online is different than the curriculum we’re teaching in the classroom, so we’re not really sure how this is all going to unfold actually,” said Allen.

When Allen was asked if she prefers online learning this fall or heading back to the classroom…

“I think it’s safe to say how I feel about going back to school, is very different than the teacher across the hall that is a cancer survivor, it’s very different than the teacher down the hall that had a child that has an autoimmune issue,” said Allen. “I think if I were to answer what is safest or what I feel is safest for me, it would diminish their voices in that.”

When it comes to her colleagues, she says there’s people on both sides.

“I was talking to a teacher yesterday that was like I’m resigned to that fact that I’m going to get Covid, lets go teach, I have another teacher I talked to today who said I’m terrified, I want to teach online,” said Allen.

Katherine Kelley-Hart is a teacher at Waverly East Intermediate School and also teaches fifth grade, but her classroom will look a little more digital. The school announced that they will be going online only through September, then re-evaluate if they need to stay online or not.

“I’ll be happy with whatever the district does because I know they do it with our best interest, but I think staying virtual might just be the best at this point in time,” said Kelley-Hart.

Moving to online only, does come with the worry of navigating some obstacles.

“Our students that need the most help or whose parents are necessarily at home during school hours,” said Kelley-Hart. “Reaching all of our students and making sure that they are getting the care and love that we are usually able to provide them in a classroom,” she added.

David Crim with the Michigan Education Association thinks virtual is the way to go right now.

“Virtual learning is not ideal, but it’s what we have until we can get this virus under control,” said Crim. “The Governor’s executive order says that no more than 10 people can congregate at once, how in the world we can expect 30 kids in a classroom for six to seven hours in a classroom a day as a safe situation is unreasonable,” he added.

For Allen, she says even though she still has some questions for how her classrooms and school will operate, she’s ready to tackle the school year.

“I’m going to be there for my students and I’m going to support them and their families in any way possible,” said Allen.

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