Teaching During the Pandemic is Not as Easy as It Seems

Senior Nick Lombardo interviews video production teacher Mr. Quitko.

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Nick Lombardo, Staff Writer

With the world significantly impacted and filled with fear by COVID-19, men and women have been out of work, schools closed, and families forced to quarantine. As America rebounds from the pandemic, we look at whether schools are safe to attend. To obtain information on what schools are doing to stay open, I spoke with video production teacher Jeremy Quitko at East Hampton High School.
Schools require masks to be worn at all times inside the building and for the students to stay apart as much as possible. The school also provides clear plastic shields around some desks to prevent foreign germs from entering a student’s space. Before the pandemic, “knowing that I needed to care about my classes,” was the hardest part of high school for Mr. Quitko. Now kids have to
deal with learning from home and learning over the internet for more than half of the school week. “I went home that Friday with a lot of supplies knowing there was a possibility I might be doing things (work) from home,” Mr. Quitko said. He was right: East Hampton High School closed for the remainder of the school year, leaving teachers stressed about finding a new way of teaching.

When asked about his opinion on teaching from home, he admitted that it was a struggle having to keep the online work updated while also helping three children of his own with school work. “Some of the students flourished… I think everyone was going through something big that they didn’t know how to express themselves and video gave them a place to express their emotions”. Mr. Quitko gave his students opportunities to make videos about learning from home for a project grade, allowing them to express themselves and have fun at home while earning credit.
When asked about his family life,  Mr. Quitko said that the biggest struggle, aside from having to keep his children occupied, was not seeing his parents. “I think I have seen them in person four times since the pandemic started,” Quitko stated. Each time, they stayed a safe distance from one another.

Now that schools are open again in Suffolk County, the district is fighting to put in new rules to prevent the spread of COVID. Like many schools, East Hampton High School requires masks at all times in the building as well as social distancing requirements. “I think schools are maybe the safest place…it seems most kids seem to respect what’s going on”. For Mr. Quitko, he says the pandemic has “made him a better teacher.”

For those in the community who may have concerns about schools spreading COVID, they should know that in the eyes of a teacher during the pandemic, schools are safe, and keeping kids in school is the best option.