Raider Times staff
March 12, 2020, was the last day Watertown Public Schools students attended school in person normally. Now, just after the one-year anniversary of this date, the decision has been made to offer full-time, in-person education for all Watertown students. Five-day-a-week learning will begin April 5 for elementary schools, April 12 for Watertown Middle School, and April 26 for Watertown High School.
The decision to fully reopen schools during a pandemic was a difficult one. Numerous variables, including air ventilation, available space, and community spread, needed to be considered.
Differing opinions, comfort levels, and political beliefs influenced people’s individual thoughts on the reopening process. However, students will be returning to school in a matter of a few short weeks.
This begs the question, how do teachers feel about this?
Some Watertown High teachers are very glad to have more students in their classrooms. Math teacher John Cacace believes that students have more success when they’re in his classroom. He says they “thrive on the energy in class” and that “the students get to collaborate more and there’s flowing dialogue.” Cacace sees in-person as an opportunity to begin to regenerate that energy.
Italian teacher David DeMaio says he’ll be more comfortable having more students now that he’s vaccinated. He also agreed with Cacace, saying, “In class learning is better and more effective.”
Matt Rose, a physics teacher has some concerns about fully in-person learning as he just had a newborn who’s high risk. The thought of bringing COVID-19 home to his high-risk daughter is “terrifying.” Rose is vaccinated, yet he is still concerned. However, he is still excited to come back.
“For me, personally, it’ll be great, even though it won’t be a traditional school, it’s still closer to teaching,” he said.
On the subject of the effect the return will have on staff, he said, “Students have a choice to learn in person, while our staff may suffer from anxiety, while others may thrive since it’s hard to interact through a computer.”
Whether or not students follow COVID-19 protocol remains a concern for many teachers. Rose said, “Students may not be as competent as they should be to the restrictions.”
A teacher who wished to remain anonymous agreed, stating, “The district was telling us that everyone was maintaining 6 feet of distance, everyone was fully masked. That is not what I was seeing.”
The same teacher also voiced concerns over the safety of teachers at other schools.
“If I were an elementary teacher going back April 5 not fully vaccinated, I’d be very upset about that,” the WHS teacher said.
Kraig Gustafson, a history teacher at the high school, also expressed concern over students following COVID-19 protocol. He implores everyone to “take your civic duty seriously” so that we may experience a traditional school environment once again.
Gustafson didn’t express surprise over the decision, saying, “All the changes from a year ago require adjustments, this is another adjustment.”
Teachers’ thoughts on the return to fully in-person instruction seems overwhelmingly positive, though there are some with concerns and apprehensions. With teachers and students remaining careful and cautious; Watertown High School teachers are excited for fully in person learning and hope to see their students in class on April 26!
–April 7, 2021–