The Cost of Covid-19: how teachers have adjusted to virtual learning

Erin+Kelly%2C+8th+grade+teacher+at+Miller+Magnet+School+in+Macon%2C+adapts+to+distance+learning+for+the+start+of+the+2020-2021+academic+school+year.

Amyre Makupson

Erin Kelly, 8th grade teacher at Miller Magnet School in Macon, adapts to distance learning for the start of the 2020-2021 academic school year.

When the pandemic hit earlier this year, lesson plans where turned upside down as educators scrambled to turn classroom learning into online instruction.

As we explore the many costs of Covid-19, Amyre Makupson with Mercer Universities Center for Collaborative Journalism shows us how teachers are adjusting to teaching in empty classrooms.

“It’s definitely different – having all my desks empty,” said Erin Kelly, an 8th grade teacher at Miller Magnet School in Macon.

Quiet classrooms and empty hallways, Kelly says virtual learning has required adjustments.

“I’m used to them coming in the door, giving a hug, high five or handshake and now, you know, we’re not really laying eyes on each other.”

Besides the physical change there are others as well.

“Keeping them engaged is a great task in a face to face setting – much harder, virtually,” says Valerie Grant, an 8th grade teacher at Miller Magnet School.

Fellow 8th grade teacher Valerie Grant says technology has had its own learning curve, too.

“Students being kicked off at certain times, needing help getting back into the classes, some of the documents when we upload, they’re not able to edit in them right away, so we’re having to walk them through those steps on how to do that,” said Grant.

“The biggest struggle is students getting acclimated to this new environment where I’m not standing with them to help them with the little issues that they have on their computer and with the assignments themselves. I’m just a face on the screen to them,” said Kelly.

Still, both teachers are trying to make the best of it.

“I just want to encourage the students to continue to do their best, continue to stay encouraged, continue to stay engaged,” said Grant. “Parents, please be patient with us. This is a new learning experience, a new adventure for everyone.”

Reminding themselves it’s only temporary and what they’re doing online now, can have an impact for years to come.

“The silver lining of this has been that they are going to leave this with technology skills that most of us didn’t develop until college,”  said Kelly.

Both teachers have said that while they understand the reasoning, they would prefer having their students back in the classroom and are hoping that happens in the coming weeks.

Click here for the full report.