Keep Calm and Zoom On


Eliana Legatt, Staff Writer

Instead of having to navigate the school halls and keep up with textbooks, teachers and students are now having to navigate Blend, emails, Zoom, and more. Though LASA has been online since Sept. 8th, AISD is working on phasing back to in-person school at 25% capacity. AISD has implemented safety precautions for students including  social distancing measures and a mask requirement for all students and faculty members on campus. 

New procedures and rules, as well as a school full of students with questions, have counselors in a new territory. Alexandra Salinas, freshman assistant principal, said there are now more platforms and tasks required of her now that online school is in full swing. 

“It’s almost like the job I’m doing now, is unrecognizable,” Salinas said. “We are spending time doing things before that we’ve never [done]…The next hardest thing is effectively communicating information to people, because you don’t realize how many things are communicated off hand and face to face.” 

According to Salinas, her job now entails having to schedule online events, email back and forth with coworkers, and work out problems with technology. Staff members such as Electronic Magazine and Yearbook teacher Kate McGuire, said they feel the same way.

“There’s little things that happen throughout the day when you’re in person that you just expect from teaching in person,” McGuire said. “But when you’re on Zoom and it’s happened to me where my internet has gone out completely for ten minutes and… I had kids trying to message me on different channels while trying to get back onto Zoom. I feel like teachers and students are being stretched to their limits because of all of the things that we have to be connected to in order to work with our students and teach our students.”

Some faculty, such as lead academic counselor Carole McPherson, said that online school is still difficult. The new virtual setting is affecting her connection with students, many of whom she said are already stressed due to the new official grading system. Differing from the Pass/Incomplete system of the last online semester. We are now in our ‘normal’ six-weeks grading system that includes assessments and finals. 

“I became a counselor because I really like students,” McPherson said. “I didn’t become a counselor to sit at home and look at people on the screen. When it’s harder on my students, it’s harder on me.”

Teachers aren’t given the choice that students and parents are given regarding the phase-in process. Parents and students were given many opportunities to voice their opinions and thoughts through surveys administered by AISD about hybrid models and preferred safety precautions.

“We haven’t had any of those surveys there was only one survey, and it just asked if you have preexisting conditions,” McGuire said. “For teachers, we were just told, ‘you’re going back to school October fifth’ unless you’ve told us that you have a pre-existing condition, that’s it. You’re going back no matter what.”McGuire said.

McPherson said she supported the initial plan to let elementary students go back, since they need more social interaction and help with school than high schoolers. However, she isn’t in favor of the phase-in process in which classes are online with students participating on campus and a teacher observing while simultaneously teaching their own separate online class.

Campuses will start to phase staff on campus during the first four weeks of October. Campuses will start to fill at 25%, and will slowly increase throughout an 8 week plan. At the four week mark, students will start to be introduced back to campus life. Staff numbers will increase every two weeks, while students have a choice on when to return. Students who do choose to return, will follow a blended lesson curriculum, and will engage with teachers regularly following CDC recommendations.

“My husband has a little bit of a health issue, so I don’t want to get anything, and then give it to him,” McPherson said. “I also take care of my elderly parents they don’t live with me, but I see them regularly, and I certainly don’t want anything to happen to them so there is just this level of fear.”

On the other hand, McGuire said that unlike some other teachers, she wants to go back to school in-person. McGuire said she understands that her situation is different than most other teachers. According to her, she doesn’t want everyone to go back but wants to be able to choose for herself and allow other teachers to have the same option. 

 “I’m ready to go back to school, in person, but I also know myself,” McGuire said. “I don’t live with anyone else, it’s just me. Compared with other teachers that have families and kids, they probably don’t want to go back to school.” 

So long as the teacher doesn’t have a health condition, they will be required to teach in-person. Ultimately, McPherson said it is important for her to trust the powers at be, who would most likely know which decision would be the most favorable. 

“We are going to do our best, and we are going to be as safe as we can,” McPherson said.