Teaching in the Pandemic: ‘This Is Not Sustainable’

Natasha Singer:

At Farmington Central Junior High in rural Illinois, classes still start at 8 a.m. But that’s about the only part of the school day that has not changed for Caitlyn Clayton, an eighth-grade English teacher tirelessly toggling between in-person and remote students.

At the start of the school day, Ms. Clayton stands in front of the classroom, reminding her students to properly pull their masks over their noses. Then she delves into a writing lesson, all the while scanning the room for possible virus threats. She stops students from sharing supplies. She keeps her distance when answering their questions. She disinfects the desks between classes.

Then in the afternoon, just as her in-person students head home, Ms. Clayton begins her second day: remote teaching. Sitting in her classroom, she checks in one-on-one via video with eighth graders who have opted for distance learning. To make sure they are not missing out, she spends hours more recording instructional videos that replicate her in-person classroom lessons.