The deaths of teachers affect students

With schools closed because of the coronavirus, the emphasis has been on providing students with the instruction they otherwise would have received.  But forgotten is the relationship that so many students counted on in the past.  That is particularly the case when teachers have died as a result of the pandemic (“Grieving At Home, Kids Face Their Teachers’ Deaths,” Huffington Post, Apr. 18).

For many young people, the departure of their favorite teachers is their first experience with death, and it is all the more tragic because they never had a chance to say goodbye.  We tend to forget that teachers often are the only adult figures in the lives of children from broken homes.

According to the American Federation of Teachers, 65 teachers and 10 retirees have fallen victim to the coronavirus.  In New York City, home of the nation’s largest school district, 50 staff members have passed away due to the coronavirus. Until a vaccine is developed, we can expect to hear of many more teachers who have perished.

My point is that teachers do more than teach knowledge and skills.  They form bonds with their students that can often mean the difference between graduation and dropping out.  The coronavirus will afflict more teachers and deprive more students of much needed role models.

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2 Replies to “The deaths of teachers affect students”

  1. The extensive debate re reopening the economy post-virus has thus far focused almost exclusively on businesses — restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, etc.. Seems like the much bigger/tougher issue is reopening the K-12 schools.

    Those K-12 schools are probably the major source of virus contagion in a community (other than perhaps subways in the few cities that have large subway systems). Of course, few if any of the K-12 students who catch the virus get seriously ill; many/most probably don’t show any symptoms and no one knows they are even sick although they are contagious.

    In that sense, K-12 teachers are (or were, until the schools closed) front-line workers frequently exposed to the virus. On the positive side, the overwhelming majority of K-12 teachers are younger than 60 and probably in better overall health than the general population (if for no other reason than they have to spend so much time standing on their feet and would have a tough time doing their job if they had a serious health condition).

    My bet is that, if/when we develop an accurate antibody test and start doing large-scale random testing with the antibody test, we will find that a very high percentage of K-12 students in many urban and suburban (as opposed to rural) schools, will be found to have had the virus. Same with their teachers.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: When I was teaching in high school, students came to my class with bad colds and other communicable diseases. I suspect they will do the same once schools reopen. It’s a bleak picture as we go forward. Most schools in large urban districts lack proper bathroom facilities for hand washing. I used to keep a supply of hand wipes in my closet long before today’s crisis.

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