HSTA: Address concerns so we can focus on keiki
On Tuesday, Sept. 28, educators all across Kaua‘i sign-waved in front of their schools. From clean facilities to healthy food to engaging lessons, personnel on school campuses work hard to provide for our keiki. We want schools to stay open and we need them to be safe for everyone — most importantly, the students.
Teachers’ working conditions and students’ learning conditions are synonymous. Educators are exhausted, and this impacts the educational opportunities of our students.
In addition to the planning lessons, educators in a pandemic are expected to be contact tracers when students test positive, enforce safety protocols, make separate assignments for students in quarantine, support substitutes when teachers cannot be on campus, and much more.
The act of teaching in a mask all day, while making sure all students can hear us, is tiring. The inconsistencies for action when there are positive cases on campus, the constant vigilance for student safety, and differing social-distancing expectations create added stress.
There are solutions that must be addressed at the state level. We need the Department of Education leadership to listen and provide those solutions. We need better communication and to be collaborative and strategic in our approach to safe schools. The state is making school-level personnel assume all responsibility for keeping schools operating. Why must teachers always shoulder the majority of the burden of work in our schools with our own energy, time, money and resources? Please address our concerns so we can focus on teaching our keiki.
Sarah Tochiki, Hawai‘i State Teachers Association Kaua‘i Chapter vice president, Lihu‘e