Classroom Frights: How To Carry On In the Classroom During A Pandemic

 how to carry on in the classroom during a pandemicJust one month prior to the Great Covid Shutdown of March 2020, my homeroom class single-handedly shut down an entire grade–and subsequently the whole elementary school–with a super spreading flu. I’ve never in my 13 years of teaching seen something spread so quickly. Those kids dropped like flies. (And yes, it was “just” the flu.) All three teachers in our unit tested flu positive within 24 hours of each other. We now look back on that as a harbinger of things to come.


For those of you currently teaching in the classroom, you are now facing new health concerns amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Never before have Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, and alcohol spray been more desired. Never before have you been so suspicious of a cough, sneeze, or an unexplained student absence.


Furthermore, your life now includes a fun new cycle of sniffles and mind games: You have a scratchy throat and a slightly runny nose. Could it be? To test or not to test. How will I have time to get tested? How will I afford time off if I run out of sick days? Maybe you’ve had traumatic experiences with this horrible disease among your family or friends that are being dredged up. You take the day, take the test, and waffle between fearing the worst and hoping for the best. It’s probably negative, but even so — your brain has just run a marathon of What ifs, exhausting you mentally. And you’re already not feeling great physically.


Everyone is weary of all of this. We have new trigger words: quarantine, distance education, virtual learning. Even the word “positive” has a negative connotation. So how do you cope?

classroom frights its ok to be weary

You do what teachers do best. Mask up, roll up your sleeves, and make the best of it. But keep in mind that it’s ok to be weary and even to show weariness and ask for help. Lean on your support systems – your work fam, your friends, your supportive parents. It’s necessary to take care of yourself. Your students need to see and know that.

classroom frights take it outside

Ditch the technology for a bit and take learning outside. This is a great time of year as the summer heat begins to fade. Clipboards are relatively inexpensive and incredibly versatile. Even better, it’s amazing what some fresh air can do for everyone’s mental health. If you don’t have classroom money for a set, scrounge some up from around the school. Ask an administrator to help you procure the funds. Or reach out to parents for donations.

classroom frights get the kids involved

Get the kiddos involved. Newly added to the list of things you teach is hygiene, so why not? Have an early-arriving student put a Clorox wipe on each desk, and students can wipe their own as they come in. Or better yet, do this at the end of each class or each day as students are packing up. It can become part of your classroom routine. Assign a weekly helper who will be responsible for wiping doorknobs and light switches each day and use that time to organize materials, enter a quick set of grades, or do whatever you need to do.

classroom frights hand washing can stay forever

Frankly, some of the extra measures that are being taken now in the classroom should stay on forever and become the new normal. Washing hands, sanitizing, and replacing water fountains with bottle fillers will keep everyone more healthy and all kinds of germs at bay. 


And someday, maybe just maybe, Covid will be just a scary story we tell our great-grandkids.

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  1. […] we met with our principal just before the shutdown, we learned we had access to this thing called Google Classroom, and that we could use it as a […]

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