Pandemic makes Gering teacher’s first semester a rollercoaster ride | Education

Guadarrama said that he wanted to be a coach first and foremost. He said he didn’t anticipate being a Spanish teacher, but a paraprofessional position in Texas helped put him on the path to teaching Spanish. In Texas, Guadarrama taught English to Spanish speakers.

“Now I’m teaching Spanish to kids who want to learn the language,” Guadarrama said.

While that may be true, the number of students Guadarrama taught this year varied day-to-day. In one class that normally housed 14 students, Guadarrama said that, on some days, just six students were able to attend. His classroom, along with the rest of Gering schools, was hampered by quarantines and illness brought on by COVID-19.

By the end of the semester, Gering Public Schools reported via its COVID-dashboard that 165 students and staff had become infected over the semester, while hundreds of students and staff were sent into quarantine after exposure.

For Guadarrama, that meant unpredictable class sizes and lesson plans drawn out by repeated quarantines. Guadarrama described the process as a student getting sick then returning to school after the illness subsided, only for a family member to get sick and force the student back into quarantine for two weeks.

“The classroom has been up and down,” he said.

Guadarrama circumvented some of those struggles via Google Classroom, an online learning aid that’s become as ubiquitous as Zoom for students in 2020. But the online components can’t replicate the in-person learning, Guadarrama said. It’s just not the same.

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