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Outbreak Voices: A Virginia Teacher On Working At A Distance


This pandemic is having a profound effect on the lives of students and teachers.

KYANA STALLWORTH: I'm a bit uneasy. There is a place where, as a teacher, you try to somewhat relax, but it's difficult to relax right now not knowing what's ahead totally.

SIMON: That's Kyana Stallworth. She teaches fifth grade in Fairfax County, Va. It's a big district with nearly 188,000 students. And they've been out of school for over a week. Their teachers are learning how to teach over distances, how to use platforms like Google Classroom. And they're rethinking what teaching is during an ongoing public health crisis. Right now, they're supposed to return to school April 14th.

STALLWORTH: I don't think it's very likely that we may return on that time, based on what we've heard in the news and through email. It's kind of a waiting game.


STALLWORTH: I do fear that my students will fall behind. Or we may have to reteach, and I don't know if we'll actually have time to cover the concepts that will get them prepared for the end of the year testing. So yes, that is my fear - that they will fall behind. Right now, what I'm sending to parents is information about things that I've seen that are really good that we've used in the classroom that are free. There are a lot of companies now that have opened up access to things. So I've been sending that to parents. I've been sending - not just to parents but also to my students via email - information on how to log on, how to save your password in your email - things like that just to make sure they have what they need because this long break that we're going to have, they may actually forget it.


STALLWORTH: Advice I would give to parents is to - well, they can email their child's teacher to ask them questions but to also just make sure they also have a schedule, that there's a rhythm, so to speak, throughout the day. They're not staying in things too long or too short, but it's a complete balance that will help create a unity within the family because it's going to look totally different from school. But just, you know, encourage one another. Speak to other parents. Things like that to keep you motivated just so we can all stay calm in this time of distress, actually.


STALLWORTH: If I was able to speak to my students now, I would actually say, you've got this. Every time they would go into a task where they thought, oh no, this is too much, they realize they can handle it. So they've got this. So I would tell them, just hang in there. You can do it.

SIMON: That's Kyana Stallworth, who teaches fifth-grade at Belle View Elementary School in Fairfax County, Va. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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