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Frustrated teacher says, “Correct precautions are impossible with older students!”

Cayce, SC (Paul Kirby) 12/08/2020 – A staff shortage that started in Lexington School District Two last week has affected both its high schools. The staff at both B.C. and Airport High Schools began calling out sick in higher numbers last week after Lexington District Five’s high school experienced much the same issues. It all appeared to have been triggered by a return of the districts’ upper schools to 5-day, face-to-face learning.

Just before 1:00 p.m. on Friday, December 4th, 2020, Lexington School District Two officials notified parents that teachers at both the high schools had begun requesting, “personal illness leave today,” without any speculation as to why the larger number of teachers at each of the schools, a number they described as, “roughly less than 20,” suddenly were calling in and requesting the sick leave. The district said, “Both principals worked diligently to arrange for substitutes for all classes, and the instructional day is proceeding on a normal school-day schedule.”

One parent of an Airport High School student said Friday just after the message was sent by the district the teachers’ sudden illnesses were no mystery. “What teachers are telling students is their absence is in protest of the 5-day school week.” He said his teenage children told him, “Teachers aren't wearing masks, therefore not enforcing the mask regulation on students. There are students that refuse to wear masks and receive no disciplinary actions,” according to his message sent to The Ledger via Facebook.

Lexington Two has many working-class families whose children attend their schools. Many of these parents, who work in jobs that pay hourly wages or don’t provide any leave without a written excuse of some type, say that being able to call in sick in protest is absolutely ridiculous for an employee of any business. “If I don't go to work when I'm supposed to, I face discipline by my boss. If it happens too often, I get fired,” one parent said.

Another mother of three students in Lexington Two’s K-12 schools said she is a single mom who works to feed her children and put a roof over their heads. She said, “I need the schools to be open and the teachers doing their essential jobs!” She also pointed out another peril of students learning from home. “Who doesn’t understand that some kids are irresponsible? They’re supposed to be responsible but if the schools can't make them wear their masks and social distance there, what chances are we taking leaving them home bored with no one supervising them?” She went on to say that she had years of experience working in a civilian job with a police department prior to landing the job she holds now. “The chief always told me that when teenagers are out of school in the summer, you could bet petty crime rates were going to go up; bored kids were going to get into more trouble!”

Another parent said some students are not mature enough to be left at home to deal with online learning while he works. “I haven't seen my son's behavior get worse during the pandemic or summers, but I know he's not learning like he was in school. I'm not a schoolteacher. After I've been working hard all day, I can't come home and go online to check if he’s completed all his assignments.” He said that some of the work is also far above his head. “They didn't teach a lot of this stuff when I was in school. I don't know how to do it myself. Kids can sign on and send teachers questions or set up an appointment to meet them online but it's just not the same.” He closed by saying, “I’m afraid my son is learning more about reruns on television than about Algebra 2 or English.”

Many of the teachers see it differently. One spoke to the maturity issue herself saying, “Correct precautions are impossible with older students!” She explained as students get older, they begin to make decisions for themselves that can be very difficult to influence. “Many of these kids’ parents are not wearing masks at home, at work, or out in public. They also don’t do any social distancing either. Whose example do you think they will follow.” That teacher continued saying, “With the number of students on this campus, it's just not possible for us to maintain the proper safety precautions we know are smart for us and them.”

Another teacher went on to explain that the teens are harder to deal with than their parents on issue of PPE and distancing. “These are teenagers who think they're going to live forever. They know that the COVID-19 pandemic has not drastically affected children of their age. I’ve heard some of them say they just can't get it and if they do, they're just out sick a short time.” That teacher also said if every student she saw with no mask or who was not properly social distancing was eventually given a discipline referral, “We’d have no students to teach in some of our classes. There are procedures in place, and we start by reminding them to be safe but at some point, it gets so frustrating.”

This struggle between administrators, staff members, and students seems as if it will be an ongoing one. In District Two’s statement they said, “With the phased-in return this week of remaining student groups for 5-day, face-to-face instruction, the district continues to emphasize safety in the learning environment. You will find several of our safety measures, as well as other important information about COVID-19, by reading the story at this link:


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