Teachers juggle childcare, job duties during distance education An insight on how educators are handling the pandemic

Some teachers have a lot of children, and even more students, and both can be a handful to deal with, especially when you have to deal with both at the same time. “I actually feel bad for my kids because they have had to be extra careful due to preexisting conditions that I have from an illness I had before my kids were ever even born,” Davies said “That put me at higher risk if I were to get covid-19. So we have been on stricter lock down then a lot of their friends and I can see that that has been difficult for them.”

While most teachers are used to sending their kids off to school or leaving to go to work early in the morning, after the COVID-19 pandemic started and schools were forced to transition to distance learning, many of these same teachers now have to stay home with their kids. Those with small children, especially, are trying to figure out ways to take care of children while teaching classes.

“Working from home has been an issue. He keeps wanting my attention,” Physics teacher Patrick Waddington said. “Let me tell you, changing diapers while also giving a lesson is quite entertaining,”  

Trying to manage their young kids going to classes while teaching online courses, English 9 teacher Jessica Wolfenden is facing many challenges balancing helping her family and getting accustomed to virtual education.

“Daycare is expensive, especially for families with 2+ children. Our situation would be less stressful.” 

“Distance learning has created some emotional/behavioral issues for my family,” Wolfenden said “Because my kids are young, they don’t know how to use a computer, nor navigate the programs used.  Thus, someone has to assist constantly.  My husband can’t perform all the necessary duties of his job because he has to bounce from one child to the other throughout the school day.” 

Teachers with younger children also can’t necessarily afford to send multiple young children to daycare, in Nevada the average annual cost of facility child care is $11,000.

“I think it (Daycare services) may have doubled in price the past ten years,” Waddington said. For typical facility services, the price is too high for all teachers to make use of them.”

 Some teachers with younger children would like to have some assistance from the district, which CCSD currently does not provide to its teachers.

“If the district would have offered some sort of child care assistance that would have obviously helped our situation.” Wolfenden said “Daycare is expensive, especially for families with 2+ children. Our situation would be less stressful.” 

“Every day feels like Groundhog Day. “

Fortunately, some teachers have older, more independent kids, or spouses who are able to take care of them and are able to go and work in their classrooms at school. This allows them to focus solely on teaching, instead of dealing with household distractions, or poor internet connections. 

“When I work from home, I feel like I’m less of a parent because my kid wants my full attention, and I cannot [give it]. That’s why I go to the school building,” Waddington said. “I also get to use the school’s resources, including the internet, and not be charged for it. There are also strict rules around here, and we are able to properly social distance without the kids here.”

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Even though challenges arise with family at home, some teachers are enjoying the increased amount of time they get to spend with their kids at home.

“I would say that having them there all the time has given me the opportunity to teach them some life skill stuff that they wouldn’t have learned in school. My kids have learned things about IT and technology as I have helped them, along with some robotics and 3D printing,” Cybersecurity teacher Wayne Davies said “But also other good life skills like changing a tire or other parts on our car, how to do some woodworking and cabinetry, plumbing, my wife has taught them about finances and banking (since she is the school banker), meal planning, cooking, and baking. Things that make a better well-rounded person in society hopefully.”

A number of teachers have been fortunate enough to employ the skills they teach to their students in the class, to help solve problems their own children face with virtual education, such as technical difficulties with their devices.

“The funny thing about me teaching technology during distance learning is that I feel like I am constantly dealing with tech issues from my kids and my students in class,” Davies said. “Luckily for my kids, this is what I do so a lot of the tech issues are quickly resolved.”

With the amount of time some teachers have to spend taking care of their kids, it’s understandable that some teachers would like to return to physical classes so that they can focus solely on helping their students. 

“’Unfortunately, it is safer for me for my kids to stay in distance learning, as much as I would rather see them at school and with their friends. It is just too much of a risk.”

“I would absolutely prefer my kids to go back in person if possible. I feel they would learn the content faster/easier if they were in the classroom,” Wolfenden said “Not to mention, they need that social interaction with kids their own age. Every day feels like Groundhog Day. “

Even with the problems that have been presented with COVID-19, distance learning, and childcare, many teachers agree that the health of their students and faculty is a top priority.

“I actually feel bad for my kids because they have had to be extra careful due to preexisting conditions that I have from an illness I had before my kids were ever even born that put me at higher risk if I were to get COVID-19. So we have been on stricter lockdown then a lot of their friends and I can see that that has been difficult for them,” Davies said “’Unfortunately, it is safer for me for my kids to stay in distance learning, as much as I would rather see them at school and with their friends. It is just too much of a risk.”

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