Photo by Cherrydeck on Unsplash
With COVID numbers rising daily in countries around the world, schools are finding the need to revamp their educational systems to ensure a safe and effective learning environment. Since teachers are key players in the educational process, should they have a voice in school decision making related to these COVID induced changes?
For example, should teachers be invited to participate and have a say in admin meetings to decide whether classes should be on-site, virtual, or a combination of both options? Perhaps some administrators would say this is strictly an admin decision, but teachers can offer valuable input to help schools make well-informed decisions, especially since teachers will be frontline workers if the decision is made to hold on-site classes. Therefore, it seems quite appropriate to hear their ideas, needs, and health concerns.
In addition, teachers can offer important input regarding classroom setups, arrival and departure procedures, as well as assist in the development of school policies related to handling students that arrive at school sick or become sick while at school. Teachers can also offer effective strategies for dealing with parents wishing to visit the school campus on a regular basis.
In cases where the schools offer parents the option of choosing on-site or virtual classes for their children, should teachers also be allowed to choose whether they want to teach on-site or virtual classes? This may be of crucial importance for some teachers since, due to varying school closures within geographic areas, they may have no place to leave their own children if they are asked to do on-site teaching or perhaps pre-existing health conditions, age, pregnancy, etc. make teaching on-site classes very risky health wise. Another factor in the choice to do on-site versus virtual classes may relate to a teacher’s level of computer skills. Some teachers will love doing virtual classes whereas for others teaching virtual classes will be stressful and torturous since they don’t feel computer savvy.
Finally, if teachers are allowed to attend admin decision-making meetings, how will the representatives be chosen—i.e., through staff voting, appointment by admin, or another method? In any case, care should be taken to make sure that within the representative group there is a good mix of people that are single/married, with/without children, of varied ages, etc. In this way, the school can receive valuable input from all parties involved and thus create a highly effective learning environment meeting the needs of both students and teachers.