Indiana teachers share questions, concerns as schools announce reopening, virtual plans

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INDIANAPOLIS — We’ve learned another Marion County school district is changing course on its reopening plan. MSD Wayne Township has pushed back the start date for school.

Students will now head back to class on August 12, not July 29 as planned. The district will also provide a virtual option for families.

This comes after Washington Township schools announced Monday that the district will be online only to start the fall semester.

Teachers in Central Indiana are having to quickly figure out how they will best serve their students during this challenging time, whether their district is staying virtual or heading back to the classroom.

“I miss my kids; I really miss my staff,” said Blake Busch, a Teacher in Marion County.

That’s the reality all teachers are going through right now.

“I don’t have a lot of the personal hesitations on going back, but I also don’t want us to live in that fear and be ruled by the fears, but the fear is real,” added Kendall Kreinhagen, who is also a Teacher in the Marion County area.

Kreinhagen wants nothing more to teach in person. Still, she understands why some districts or families will stay virtual.

“I’ve lost a dear, dear friend to this early on and it was tough,” she said.

And teachers have lingering questions about returning to class.

“Will I contract it? Will I take it home to my family?” asked Kreinhagen, “I think all of the unknowns are some of the hesitations to us going back to the classroom and not only exposing ourselves but what could happen to the children.”

Busch added, “Every single member of my immediate family is in education and I’m worried about bus drivers, I’m worried about instructional assistants.”

Busch teaches music which presents its own challenges.

“We see every single kid in the building, it’s not like one specific class, so it would be really interesting if kids did come back in and one kid got sick, how does that work out for my room?” Busch wondered, “Even though we sanitized all of the instruments on a daily basis, so that’s one concern.”

State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick acknowledged that there are still many unknowns.

“I know many districts and many communities are struggling with, who makes the ultimate call?” said McCormick, “For decisions that are made about are we going to be on site, or remote or is it going to be hybrid, what does that look like for what period of time? That is really all a local decision with your local schools, but there’s a ton of input from your health department.”

Some districts are requiring masks in their buildings which sets up another concern for teachers.

“We rely a lot of on our visual cues and facial expressions for the children to learn a lot of the information that we’re giving,” said Kreinhagen, “Know and trust that the schools really have their best interest in mind and they’re going to make sure no matter how instruction is delivered it’s going to be the best possible instruction that they can get.”

Busch added, “I think teachers are going above and beyond trying to make things accessible with students.”

Tuesday afternoon the Indiana State Teachers Association met virtually with Governor Eric Holcomb to discuss school reopening plans. ISTA President Keith Gambill went live on Facebook to share how it went.

His team stressed the need for clear guidance from the state on when a school should open or stay virtual. ISTA wants the state to meet the needs of the most vulnerable students and staff, by providing a sufficient amount of personal protective equipment (PPE).

One member of ISTA told the Governor, parents are having to decide between their child’s health and their child’s education, which is an impossible choice.

Superintendent McCormick mentioned during her weekly webinar that there is currently no plan right now to delay statewide school start times until after Labor Day. The decisions are happening at the district level.

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