Letter: I'm appalled B.C. teachers are forced to work both in class and online

The Editor,

I am appalled that B.C. teachers, after spending about three months teaching online, are now forced to divide their time between in-class instruction and online teaching after hours.

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Teachers doing in-class instruction have different students in the morning and the afternoon, but these are a minority. The majority of students ‘volunteer’ to stay home, so teachers still have a greater online burden, a load which still includes their in-class students. 

Some in-class instruction is part-time, and it is meant to support online learning — sometimes with, sometimes without devices — amounting to an almost reasonable two days a week. But some teachers are in class three, four or even five days a week, which is excessive considering the greater balance of students are not even at school. 

Then there is all the tech support students require, particularly at the elementary levels, plus constant emails, and the considerations for parents for whom English is not their first language, all of which add to more screen time. On top of that is the challenge of maintaining social distancing when in class: after months of isolation students seek out play and more emotional means of support. As well, there is the ongoing possible risk of reintroducing COVID-19.

Somewhere along the line something is going to have to give. Either teachers will have to cut corners in a big way, so student outcomes will suffer, or, the teachers’ mental health will nosedive, as report cards also come due this month. 

Making matters even more demanding, in SD43, parent input has become a required component of student assessment this year. But are there also not cases now where test scores appear somehow perfect precisely because students are not working alone? And, on the other side of the digital divide, are there not some parents who are reluctant, possibly ill-equipped, or even unavailable, to support their children’s online learning? Blended teaching requires quite the juggling act, and it will take a toll.

As a parent I always found June an exhausting month to navigate. I can’t imagine what it is like for B.C. teachers these days.

Joerge Dyrkton, Anmore

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