This letter was written by Delaney Burns, a recent graduate from the UNC Charlotte Cato College of Education who pursued a career as a teacher. In this letter, Burns expresses her concerns with the transition to in-person attendance at school.
The past month, we have seen the openings and the inevitable closures of universities across North Carolina after hundreds of students tested positive for COVID-19. What is supposed to be a joyful moment for students and parents has been a time of uncertainty, fear and confusion. I recently became a teacher in North Carolina, and while no one wants to restart in-person learning more than me, we cannot make reckless decisions that put our students and educators in harm's way.
The first thing I learned as a teacher is that you never walk into a classroom without a plan. You can have the best intentions, but if you don’t have a plan, a lesson can quickly devolve into chaos. The same is true of our government — but President Trump has spent his time putting pressure on legislators and educators to fill classrooms for the fall instead of doing what’s best for America’s children.
Re-openings need to be grounded in science and guided by local leaders who understand their community. The Biden-Harris road map for re-openings is focused on bringing back in-person education in a way that is safe for students and educators alike. School reopening shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but I cannot stand by while our students are used as pawns in a political rush to reopen.
We have a chance to make going back to school the exciting and uplifting experience it should be, but that requires thoughtful planning with teachers at the decision-making table.