Teachers share hopes, concerns as school year begins during a pandemic

Kid Student School Desk

Editor’s note: This article mistakenly reported that Spokane Public Schools adopted a hybrid model of learning; it has been corrected to reflect that it is opening remotely this year.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Whether kids go back to school in-person or virtually this fall, we know families are worried. What some might forget is that their teachers are, too.

Who better to explain what classrooms will look like this fall than the people in charge of them?

4 News Now’s Nia Wong held a virtual roundtable with several teachers in the area, shaping out future by shaping young minds. This year, however, they’re doing this from behind a screen, in boxes, and it’s how many students will greet their teachers.

“My latest project is to think about how I’m going to build relationships with kids in a digital world,” said Corina Fletcher, who has been working all summer to welcome her first-grade class at Woodridge Elementary. “We’ve got this, we will troubleshoot together.

For Kyndra Mancini, she’s been improving her tech skills for her incoming second-grade class at Grant Elementary. Her biggest concern is access.

“I know there’s been a lot of issues such as childcare and internet access,” said Mancini, “I want this to be equitable for everybody. I worry about those kiddos who are underserved.”

Woodridge and Grant are both part of Spokane Public Schools, which chose a remote learning option for learning this year.

RELATED: Spokane Public Schools to begin 2020-2021 school year with full-time distance learning

Mancini is optimistic this will be an opportunity.

“[It’s] giving kids those 21st century skills they need in order to be successful in their futures,” Mancini explained.

Over in the Riverside School District—also in Spokane County—students will return to classrooms in-person.

“I have missed my students and I can’t wait to see them,” said Katie Wood, who knows this year will be challenging for her first-grade students. “A lot of them might be having a very hard time processing why you have to stand six feet away from someone, [or] why I’m not going to be able to give them a hug.”

Even so, Wood believes her kids can learn and still be safe.

“When you set the expectation for your students, they are capable of rising to that expectation that you set,” said Wood.

For Wood’s husband, Buddy, he’s ready to lead his math classes and football practices.

“We’re not alone. The whole state, the whole country is going through the same thing,” said Buddy, who is hopeful about the upcoming year, “This is a tough situation, but it’s a situation we’re all in and we’ve got to make the best of it.”

“It’s very difficult for parents and students getting logged in,” said Mancini, “but we are there for you no matter what.”

“It’s a rare moment when the world gets to be learners all at the same time,” said Fletcher, “and as long as we can give ourselves some grace, and all of us grace, then we’ll be just fine. We’ll work this out as a team.”

RELATED: LIST: School districts determine back to school plans