What a year we have had! Teaching through a pandemic has not been easy, and now we’re kicking off another year of school during these stressful and uncertain times of COVID-19.
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And as if things weren’t bad enough, many states have announced cuts to education budgets that will dramatically affect schools and teachers. Once again educators are being asked to do more with less.
The Challenges We Face
As we prepare our classrooms for the 2020-2021 school year, teachers are digging into their wallets to buy things to help make a smoother transition back to school for themselves and for their students.
Returning in-person to school means purchasing things like:
- A collection of face masks
- At least one face shield
- More supplies than ever (pens, markers, etc.) since students cannot share
- Hand sanitizer
- Tape to mark social distancing spots
Even teachers who are starting the year virtually will have purchases to make such as:
- Upgraded computers or laptops
- Faster home internet service
- Software subscriptions
- Ready-made, interactive online lessons
In some districts, teachers are given a certain amount of funds to help offset some of these costs. However, with budget cuts slashing the amount that schools can spend, many teachers will be denied requests for any extra needs this year. This leaves teachers struggling to decide how to spend their personal funds on items for their classrooms.
Keeping a Positive Mindset
Of course, teachers are warriors in this fight for our students, and we will do all we can to help our students find success in school no matter what the financial costs might be. This is the way teachers have always worked, and we will continue to do so during this crazy time.
We have to accept that schools have very little, if any, extra cash flow to help teachers. Thus, we need to get creative as usual. We can write grants, ask for public donations, reach out to stores to arrange a discount, and share any resources we can with colleagues. Every year it seems like we won’t be able to function with less, but we always find a way. And this year is no different: we will find a way.
Helping Our Communities and Students
As schools across the nation are making budget cuts, we have to remember that many families in our communities are also facing financial hardship. Jobs have been lost. Some parents have less disposable income. Students might feel that they also have to do more with less, especially when it comes to their education.
Teachers can help provide for students by making sure that each student has the basics they need to participate in school. If students are in-person, teachers can make sure they have extra masks and school supplies for every student. If students are on-line, teachers can contact students to make sure they have the technology they need to be virtually present every day. If not, they can reach out to administrators for laptops to loan to students.
Also, schools can be mindful of costs that students incur throughout the year. School fees need to be cut for students. Items that have been purchased with student fees in the past, such as student agendas and subscriptions to weekly readers, can be put on hold for this year. Seniors who are planning for graduation can be offered more budget-friendly options for caps and gowns (from brands like Graduation Source.) School administrators need to make more responsible and logical choices that alleviate some of the financial stress their students and families are dealing with.
We’ve Got This
It’s easy to become frustrated in this trying time, but we have to keep our heads up. Teachers lead the community and quite literally shape the future of society. We will lead our students to look at this time as an important opportunity to reflect on life and all the gifts we have. We will face this challenge and come out stronger than ever before.