Teaching during the Pandemic - Justine

Teaching during the Pandemic is simply not business as usual. As part of an on-going effort to share what teaching is actually like on the front lines, ETFO Waterloo asked members to share their experiences and are excited to present our "Teaching during the Pandemic: Stories from the Front of the Classroom" series to you. Our first submission is from local educator Justine. 


This year has been challenging.

Teaching during a pandemic is not as easy as simply putting on a face mask or shield and continuing to teach in the same manner as years before. I can honestly say that my workload is exponentially higher due to having to rework all regular teaching strategies to be “Covid-friendly” ensuring physical distancing, limited shared supplies, all while implementing a brand new Math Curriculum. Add to this the stress of keeping the Google classroom up-to-date in the event of what’s happening right now.

It is so frustrating to hear the Minister of Education and Premier talk in the media about how safe our schools are during the pandemic. I do not feel safe in the classroom, at least not with class sizes where they are at currently. Prior to the Winter Break, I was exposed to three separate confirmed COVID-19 cases. As a result, I began my holidays anxiously waiting on baited breathe to receive further information from the Region of Waterloo Public Health about my family’s next step. I did not receive a phone call from public health until a week after exposure. As part of the contact tracing process, I was asked by Public Health if I was able to maintain 6 feet distance from others while in school. I laughed, that is impossible.

Teachers know that being in-class is the best place for our students. However, we definitely don’t have the best tools, we received no training on distance-learning, and we just keep being expected to take on more and more and more. We follow the health and safety guidelines but the basics of class size and classroom ventilation have not been addressed by our government. My school’s ventilation has not been changed in decades and the “additional funding” provided by the government did little to address this concern on the frontlines. We are stressed but expected to continue on with a smile on our faces.

After the break, I began teaching my students online during one of the busiest months for teachers. I was expected to continue to fulfill the expectations of the curriculum, assess my students learning, and complete my report cards as if we’re not in the middle of a global pandemic. I wasn’t trained to teach online but I have been making the best of the situation. Parents are agitated, students are overwhelmed, teachers are overwhelmed and all we get is a pat on the back from the government. Online learning is chaotic, everyone is doing their best however it is near impossible to keep track of students, where they’re at, and helping when necessary.

It’s time for the government to actually address the concerns of actual teachers and stop playing games with our students’ futures.


Justine S. is an ETFO Waterloo member teaching within the WRDSB. We thank her for sharing her story!

If you are an ETFO Waterloo member and would like to share your story, please click here.

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