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John Ogozalek: What Teachers Can Do to Help During Epidemic Crisis

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John Ogozalek teaches in rural upstate New York.

He writes:

Let’s hope we dodge this bullet as a nation.

But it sounds like the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to go sideways.

What if schools close for weeks -if not months?

What will teachers do during this time off? (Assuming we’re not taking care of family in our own homes.)

And, let’s face it, the idea of teaching online just isn’t going to last long if at all for many K-12 schools. Seriously.

Here’s the thing…

Teachers represent an already organized, very locally based force -across the entire nation.

Instead of waiting for the federal government’s response to get organized (which under Trump’s leadership seems like a disaster in the making as valuable time slips by) perhaps our unions and school districts can get moving on this challenge right now.

Hopefully, we won’t be needed. But why not get ready to help?

I do not want to sit around my house if school is closed.

Could I volunteer with a local doctor? Check on shut ins?

At the minimum, schools can have meetings right now to make sure teachers and staff have accurate contact information including alternate means to communicate in case the internet is stressed. What happens to families who are lacking child care? And, those kids who rely on school lunch?

We can start to organize and at least offer our volunteer assistance to the government. A sort of “Teacher Force” at the ready for those of us who can lend a hand.

By moving forward without fear and working together maybe we can create a model for other groups? And, most importantly, offer some help to the children in our communities.

You have contact with people in charge of things in this country, especially union leaders.

I think this idea might get off the ground pretty quickly if an organization like NYSUT, for example, gets local presidents on it. Of course, we’d include administrators and anyone else in the school who wants to pitch in. We’d need a thoughtful template to respond effectively…a plan informed by public health experts. A package of possible options that local schools can consider and perhaps choose from.

Just an idea, Diane. Maybe the higher ups somewhere are already thinking in this direction?

If not, maybe we should….

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