Hello Reddit! As the United States has struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic, public schools across the country have pushed to reopen. As Georgia schools typically start in August, Georgia has, in many ways, been the epicenter of school reopenings and spread of the virus among students, faculty, and staff (districts such as Paulding County and Cherokee County have recently made national news). I resigned this week, about three weeks prior to my district's first day of school, mostly due to a lack of mask requirement and impossibility of social distancing within classrooms.

AMA.

Proof: https://twitter.com/hyperwavemusic/status/1296848560466657282/photo/1

Edit: Thanks for the gold!

Edit 2: Thank you to Redditors who gave awards and again to everyone who asked questions and contributed to the discussion. I am pleasantly surprised at the number of people this post has reached. There are teachers - and Americans in general - who are in more dire positions medically and financially than I, and we seem to have an executive administration that does not care about the well being of its most vulnerable, nor even the average citizen, and actively denies science and economics as it has failed to protect Americans during the pandemic. Now is the time to speak out. The future of the United States desperately depends on it.

Comments: 1672 • Responses: 36  • Date: 

mhol7597845 karma

I am also a teacher in a right-to-work state. The union which is usually pretty weak, asks all teachers who are resigning due to their district's Covid policies, register with them first. I think it's so they can fight things like sanctions against your certification for job abandonment during a contract year. Do you find this also where you are?

Hyper_Wave130 karma

It is similar in Georgia. The state teacher's union released guidelines which included that teachers resigning due to COVID should not be sanctioned.

teachergirl198171 karma

Georgia doesnt have teachers unions, GAE and PAGE aren't unions.

Hyper_Wave68 karma

This is correct. Thank you for mentioning this.

SgtMajorProblems471 karma

Is GA or anywhere you know of offering special accommodations for special needs students? I feel like it's lose-lose for them and their families whether remote or in-person

Hyper_Wave246 karma

This is the big debate among parents, it seems. My district did, in fact, offer some accommodations for both in-person and virtual students, which would be planned on an individual basis in IEPs and 504 plans. I think the effectiveness of accommodations through virtual learning is what has been in question, however. I heard some talk about students who "just can't learn on a computer". That may very well be the case for some students. They are put in a very tight place.

That said, I think it's important for special needs students to have as much distanced learning as possible. When they do need in-person accommodations, it's important that everyone wears masks and talks from a distance.

Darkjeremy1992390 karma

How old are you? What grade level did you teach?

Hyper_Wave954 karma

I am 26 years old and taught 10th grade physical science and 12th grade Earth systems.

Side note: I had my Earth systems students conduct a project in the spring in which they chose any type of natural hazard and put together a presentation of their choice. I had "disease outbreaks" on the list, but no student chose that option. I never could have imagined how important that would become.

Kujaichi219 karma

I never could have imagined how important that would become.

Maybe we just have a different definition of spring, but wasn't the pandemic already underway then...?

ArcanaNoir196 karma

Spring could refer to the spring semester which begins in January, as opposed to the fall semester.

Hyper_Wave223 karma

That is correct. All students had chosen their natural hazards well before March.

uhhh20623 karma

I can't imagine teaching kids only 10 years younger than me. I have always homeschooled my now-13 year old, but a whole classroom of teens when I was 26 sounds overwhelming.

It's not COVID-19 related, but I'm curious if you have anything you can share about whether you think your age affected the dynamic in a classroom.

Hyper_Wave107 karma

At age 26, it takes more effort and time to establish respect among students, but the smaller age difference meant it was easier for the students to relate to me, find common interests, and seek advice from me for early adulthood. I attended college and started my career in the same world and economy that they will.

Edit: grammar

xXPostapocalypseXx21 karma

Serious questions not being a troll. Are you concerned more about your health, the health of the students, or the health of their families. With the death rate being so low of those 49 and under (.00039) and loss of education for a year, potentially bringing along with it a life long challenge, do you feel it is worth it? Should kids be given an additional year for those who inevitably lose out?

The reason I ask is because, I have met plenty of teachers who value education over the potential for sickness, and older teachers who are terrified of returning but don’t have the technological prowess to be effective online. You being young don’t fit either of those categories.

Hyper_Wave4 karma

I am least concerned for my own health. My SO has asthma and uses an inhaler every once in a while, thought it is not severe. I would be concerned for my students' families' health. The conditions of teaching this semester or year, aside from that, would have been stressful - constantly monitoring behavior and symptoms to ensure no one is sick and having to act as if we are positive 24/7 due to the high probability of spread within the schools.

FunkyLuckyDucky181 karma

Before the school year started, was there any communication between the teachers and the school board about how to limit social interactions and get face masks worn? Or was it just a casual reopening of schools in an attempt to return to normalcy despite being in a pandemic?

Hyper_Wave356 karma

There was some communication about this, but the answer is it is a little bit of both. I genuinely felt that my principal and co-teachers have been doing everything in their power to mitigate spread of the virus. Unfortunately, those mitigatory actions just aren't enough when the state and district are pushing for normalcy.

I voiced my concerns about my district's reopening plans in an email sent at the beginning of July. My number one request was that information I shared, most of which included cited sources, would be shared somehow. I was explicitly told that the superintendent had decided not to share that information with the district's stakeholders.

Edit: grammar

Hyper_Wave168 karma

Thank you all for your questions. I have enjoyed sharing my experience and stance on the issues surrounding school reopenings during the pandemic, and it has been somewhat cathartic. I cannot express crucially enough how important it is that this pandemic becomes controlled. Above all else, students should be learning about the scientific and social problems facing the world this year, particularly this pandemic and its effects. Part of that is knowing how the virus spreads and that it is best to stay home.

More than a month before I resigned, I let my supervisors know my concerns and provided information with cited sources on the virus's spread in asymptomatic carriers and ability to spread quickly in indoor environments. I asked them to make this information public. They refused. They responded that the school district did not intend to publish the information with their stakeholders.

I resigned because I do not believe in the job that I would be required to do under these conditions. I know that other teachers across the country are in the same position. I am fortunate that I have other means for a career and some financial stability.

I will be checking periodically for any more questions.

joesomebody_102 karma

Honest question because I don't understand it...

Why do teachers think they are any different than the rest of America's work force?

Everyone else has to work. The checkout clerks at Costco probably see more unique individuals in a day than teachers.

Hyper_Wave41 karma

Not all jobs, of course, are at equal risk. It depends not only on the number of interactions per day but just as importantly the distance between people in conversation, duration of time spent in conversation, and whether or not masks are worn.

Teachers are not the only workers at significant risk. Indoor restaurant workers, medical workers, and tightly spaced office workers (such as call centers) are also at high risk.

Ciff_68 karma

In Sweden primary school is required by law, and is always on-site, even trough this whole pandemic, as such this is an interesting perspective. My friends and relatives that are teachers in school are not really worried (and while anectodal, it would seem to be the general sentiment among teachers here). How is the discourse among your colleagues?

Secondly, and I am aware that it is controversial here, our ministry for health has estimated that the lack of physical activity & social interaction is a greater health risk than covid. Further great spread among schools is deemed by the same authorities as unlikely (and so far cases among kids are in double digits nation wide). To add, we don't see any masks at all here. None. Any thoughts on this?

Hyper_Wave50 karma

My understanding of Sweden's policies toward COVID is that its leaders intended for the population to quickly develop herd immunity, and reports are indicating that this has not worked. Sweden, of course, has a much smaller population size that the U.S., which means a much lower total number of infections, but I don't think that constitutes a return to classrooms. Sweden would have been wiser to lock down as the other Scandinavian countries have done.

American teachers are worried, but most have no way out of the profession and are forced to bear through this, knowing the inevitable risks.

Ketosheep40 karma

How is this decision affecting your family finances? You are very brave for looking out for yourself.

Hyper_Wave105 karma

Fortunately, my SO and I are in a solid enough position financially that we can keep the bills paid. A lot of teachers are not in that position. However, I am taking steps to begin a career in GIS, environmental protection, or something similar, as my degree is in geoscience, and I taught Earth science.

Ketosheep32 karma

I am glad for you, my job is a little less dangerous than yours and some days the disregard for personnel safety is so much, the ignorance is so prevalent that wish I could quit but I can’t. I am at risk population and they have me here against my country’s regulation. I totally get where your are coming from, thanks for answering.

Hyper_Wave26 karma

Thank you for your question! Stay informed, and do what you can to make sure others know how the virus spreads. And masks work. I wish the best for you.

dave41394139-41 karma

Sooooo you didn’t quit your job on principle alone- you had ulterior motives and saw it as a good exit point. It’s a natural transition point. It would be entirely different if you said you quit your job and will be unemployed as a teacher until X when covid is gone and then resume work as a teacher- but you’re not doing that. You’re fully supported by someone else and working towards a more lucrative career.

Hyper_Wave18 karma

I am considering teaching again if/when the pandemic gets under control or if a virtual-only teaching opportunity becomes available. But it is not the only way forward and probably not my preferred career choice.

In my letter of resignation, I mentioned that COVID-19 is one of the most pressing scientific and social problems facing the planet, and knowledge of this virus, its behavior, and its toll on public health are perhaps the most important lessons a student can learn today.

Though I have another way forward, many teachers do not and cannot afford to blow the whistle. I want the public to understand the conditions in which teachers are forced to work in the United States amid this pandemic.

twocannnsam40 karma

Are you in the teachers union? I'm wondering why we don't see any action from unions

Hyper_Wave76 karma

I am, in fact, a member of the teachers' union in Georgia, and I encourage union membership among teachers and in any profession. Teachers' unions across the country are actually pushing for more protections for teachers amid this pandemic. Many union spokespeople have made public statements, and at least one lawsuit has been filed (from Florida's largest teacher union).

I maintained legal counsel in the steps leading up to my decision to resign. I tried everything I could to keep my job under circumstances that would have been safe in terms of preventing spread of the virus.

Edit: As others have correctly pointed out, the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) is not actually a union but an advocacy organization. Though it is helpful to teachers, Georgia teachers do not have union membership and can be fired for striking.

geri_whut23 karma

Are you referring to PAGE? I also work in GA schools, but I thought our state didn't allow unions? My understanding is that PAGE is an advocacy group, but not a union that can bargain for our rights or allow us to strike.

Hyper_Wave20 karma

I am referring to PAGE, and that is probably accurate. They seem to be the best resource teachers have in terms of collective bargaining, which is weak in the state.

TippHead36 karma

1) what kind of music do you make?

2) what would be your ideal way to teach grades 4-12 & higher education? (Remote, hybrid, in-person, etc.)

Hyper_Wave112 karma

Of course, I didn't want to use an AMA to promote my music, but it is electronic rock, sort of a blend of synthwave and progressive rock.

Ideally, I would like to teach in person. I'm not a big believer in homework, and I prefer to hold class discussions and activities which allow students to form opinions and speak. However, this pandemic is not the time for that. Until it is under control, as many students as possible should be learning online so that they are not in an environment conducive to the virus's spread.

TippHead19 karma

Dont you think what you described can be achieved online/remotely? Theoretically, this could be the new era of teaching/learning even after covid. I know for k-12 not all students have the proper set up at home (internet, computer)--but if they did.

Hyper_Wave35 karma

Perhaps with effective technology and resources, it could. I think we will see how that plays out in the near future, and I will want to look into psychological research on this (if there isn't any published already).

Darnov33 karma

Haven’t checked the entire thread for this question, but figured I’d ask anyway.

As a science teacher, how were your lesson plans affected by the anti-intellectualism of the state board of education/political leadership of the state or local government?

Do you feel that we need drastic educational reform that puts emphasis on education and less on studying for specific metric tests?

Hyper_Wave10 karma

Fortunately, my lesson plans were not affected by the anti-intellectualism that is prevalent in the state. Evolution by natural selection and anthropogenic climate change are both included in the state standards for learning. If you have time, look into the 2005 court case Selman v Cob County. Also, the kids are more accepting of these concepts than older adults appear to be. That's part of what gives me hope for the future.

Yes, we do need educational reform that encourages intrinsic motivation and happiness. We need more discussion based learning and more open-ended assignments. We need metrics for achievement other than numeric scores and a push away from grades. I think that standardized testing needs to be removed completely from schools.

Ironsix29 karma

My folks asked me what my wife and I were planning on doing with our child for school this year. I said "Well, I have two options - part time at the school or full time at home. One of those options has a chance of killing my kid, and the other one does not."

Would you say this lines up with your thought process before resigning? If your school had mandated masks and attempted social distancing would you have stayed on?

Hyper_Wave56 karma

I would have been more likely to do so, but I wish there was more emphasis placed on virtual learning and that more information was provided to families, more accessibly, about how the virus spreads (parents were encouraged to read GA Department of Public Health guidelines).

I think, ideally, the only students returning face-to-face should be those without Internet and computer access at home, and the school districts should be making efforts to provide Internet access and rental devices to as many homes as possible. I understand that some rural homes cannot feasibly get working broadband.

Good luck to you and your child this year, and realize that there is no shame in virtual learning right now.

LittleLegs199122 karma

For kids who are starting kindergarten, how do you expect them to use virtual learning tools? Since both parents are likely working they can't assist their child during their work times. Kids that age barely know how to write and read, and really only know to push buttons on a computer nothing precise. Are you and others considering delaying these kids until next year or is there a better plan in place that will allow kids that young to learn from home?

Hyper_Wave22 karma

I wish I knew the best solution for early childhood education, but I'm not the expert on this. Secondary and middle grades are something of a different discipline from early childhood education. I think that parents that can feasibly homeschool their Kindergartners should do so in these circumstances. Class sizes should be minimized to the fullest extent possible, and students should stay with one teacher for the entire day. I think it's also important that children wear masks, even if it is difficult. Having the children wear masks would be a valuable lesson in community and health. Again, I am no expert on early childhood.

HzMeister22 karma

How have your coworkers and the administration reacted to you leaving? Are you the only one or are other people also leaving?

Btw, I 100% agree with your decision and would have done the same. Schools are notorious for being breeding grounds for even relatively benign pathogens, let alone one that caused a global pandemic...

Hyper_Wave35 karma

AFAIK, I am the only teacher from my school that has resigned. They have been understanding. I certainly did not choose to leave due to my coworkers' handling of the situation. They have always been supportive. Unfortunately, many of them have no choice but to press on with the school year, knowing that their working conditions have changed dramatically and that it is going to be a difficult road ahead until the pandemic is under control.

ohnoyoudidn17 karma

Hello fellow science teacher! Asking from Canada - we go back in September which I'm not super concerned about at the moment because we've dialed the virus down quite handily in my region. But one question that our union was unable to answer is, if we are mandated to go on 2-week quarantine because we were exposed to someone with Covid, will that drain our sick days? What was your district policy on that? And what happens if you are a new teacher and haven't accrued sick days?

Hyper_Wave16 karma

In the states, there is now emergency leave for up to 80 hours at full or 2/3 pay at the federal level. Teachers would be able to qualify for this if they received a positive test or supposedly if they had been in contact with a person who tested positive. This leave is separate from normal sick leave, as I understand it.

michalemabelle13 karma

I work in a non-profit that works with our local school system in rural, South Central, Georgia.

I just wanted to say that I understand how hard a decision that was & what kind of pressure you're facing.

What are your plans now?

Hyper_Wave22 karma

I am fortunate enough to be financially stable, and I have a background in geosciences and am working on getting into GIS, environmental protection, or something similar. I may teach again if the right opportunity arises. But I also want to raise awareness of the conditions in which teachers and school staff are forced to work and students are forced to learn.

If you are in rural south central Georgia, you may not be far from me! Thank you for what you do.

michalemabelle6 karma

I'm in a county on the state line just outside of Valdosta.

Hyper_Wave11 karma

I'm currently living in Tifton. Small world (at least in rural Georgia, it is).

eye_can_do_that7 karma

Did you attend your districts BoE meetings and if so how do you think the BoE handled the planning of school reopening? What about the super attendant and his staff? Obviously you didn't like what they implemented but what about the process that got them there?

Hyper_Wave11 karma

I did not attend, but I immediately read each press release. My school districts' guidelines were mostly derived from the state's recommendations, which were not conducive to gaining control of the virus. There has been a push to return to normalcy and a refusal to publish accurate information about the spread of this virus.

Kenaserenity7 karma

I’m sorry about some of the hateful replies you’re getting about having “abandoned” the kids. You’re in a tough situation, like most folks in this time, and made the best judgement for yourself. Our teachers shouldn’t need to die for children to receive an education.

My question would be: under normal circumstances, how do you break through to kids who seem uninterested in learning?

Hyper_Wave14 karma

Normal circumstances aren't all that much different from today's circumstances. The kids know that their generation is inheriting significant, unprecedented problems in science and society. Climate change, globalization, economic and racial polarization, etc. Whether or not they understand these problems, they experience the consequences. It's important that they know that their knowledge, opinions, and voices matter.

InspectorGadget437 karma

What are your thoughts on reopening public schools in general, precautions included?

Hyper_Wave38 karma

Safety should be priority one, and that means taking necessary measures to reduce, not increase, COVID case numbers. The only students that should be returning are those whose homes cannot feasibly access broadband networks, and districts should provide devices and broadband to families, even if temporarily. Masks should be mandatory in buildings without exception.

My biggest concern with reopening measures that have been taken is that accurate information about how the virus spreads seems to be withheld from the public. I voiced my concerns in early July, asking that the school district share the information, and was explicitly told that the school district would not share the information with their stakeholders.

whatsitmatter9096 karma

As a teacher I'm sure you are aware of the total BS going on in public schools. Not referring to anything covid or political. But simply the fact that teachers have absolutely no disciplinary power anymore. You can't punish kids anymore or even give them their true grades because of parents now a days. Now to add the absolute insanity and unprecedented nature of COVID-19, do you believe it is time to take a serious look at transforming the public school system and dare I say privatize it? I'm a 18 year old class of 2020 civic graduate. I ask this question because after k through 12 myself and nearly all of my peers feel we did not learn a damn thing and are absolutely underprepared for the trials and tribulations of life.

Hyper_Wave14 karma

Firstly, I would like to say that indignation is felt everywhere in public schools. However, privatization is not the solution. In fact, the strict standards and overuse of standardized testing (about which we all gripe) originated from private companies who advertise higher learning outcomes with the purchase of their products - most notably Pearson and the ETS.

Yes, we should transform our school systems. But we should do so toward cultivation of interest and happiness. Teach students to think critically and voice their opinions rather than continue the anxiety and stress inducing tradition of standardized testing and memorization-based study guides.

gatsby3143 karma

Are you part of a union? If so, what steps had/has your union been taking to push back against schools reopening without proper precautions?

Hyper_Wave3 karma

I am a member of The Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE), the teachers' union in Georgia, and I strongly encourage union membership. PAGE has released guidelines for reopening, but unfortunately, these guidelines have not been strictly followed by the school districts.

religionofpeace7863 karma

Do they let you teach climate change in your school?

Hyper_Wave18 karma

It is in the educational standards for the state of Georgia! And I told my students that climate change is one of the most important things in science they will learn in high school.

8andahalfby112 karma

Have other Georgia Teachers in your personal network expressed similar intent, or do you feel alone in your actions?

Hyper_Wave10 karma

Most other teachers I know unfortunately don't seem to have the means to leave their jobs and depend heavily on them. I wish that all teachers could afford to quit and blow the whistle. However, I don't necessarily feel alone in my actions. I know that there are other teachers across the country in similar positions, who have left their jobs, and that there are teachers who are forced to work this year that are anxious and terrified by the conditions they have been forced into.

GooeyGlobs4U-27 karma

Are you going to be going on some sort of public aid now?

Hyper_Wave11 karma

Nope.