Local teacher voices concerns after RPS releases back-to-school handbook

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Despite the plan in place, some teachers are concerned about returning to the classroom. Earlier this week we told you about a survey that shows 3/4ths of RPS teachers are uncomfortable returning.

One local teacher says the changes add another level of responsibility to teachers’ shoulders.

“I’m anxious, I’m scared. It’s new. I mean we’re still in the middle of this and we have to go back,” said Tiffany Russey, a kindergarten teacher at Welsh Elementary School. “Teaching is what I’ve wanted to do since I was young, but I didn’t want to teach in this way.”

“I teach in a very hands-on, community-based, socializing, all the fun stuff that makes learning fun and makes kids want to get engaged, and I don’t see that happening,” Russey explained.

1818 “For the first couple of weeks it’s not that traditional fun community-building stuff…it’s going to be a little bit nerve-wracking just to get them used to having the mask on, dealing with the guidelines we have for social distancing and just teaching them a new way to learn.,” she added.

While teachers are preparing to adjust to the ‘new normals’ of teaching, Russey says getting her students to keep masks on will be the biggest challenge.

“Teachers want to come back to school, but we need their help in making sure that the kids are staying safe and we’re staying safe as well,” Russey explained.

On Wednesday, Winnebago County Health Director Dr. Sandra Martell discussed guidelines with school staff on how to safely welcome back students.

“The idea being that that group really is exposed only among themselves, and as we’ve seen some of the data that most recently came out this week…children between the ages of 0-10 the spread amongst those is very low, and we’ve seen that work very effectively in the summer camps and daycares to date,” Dr. Martell said.

Russey says she understands the important role schools play in Rockford.

“People have to go to work, but we want to go back to work too, we want to be with our kids, but we want to be safe,” Russey said.

“No teacher wants to have it on their conscious that a student of theirs passed away or a colleague passed away. It’s just…it’s scary,” she added.

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