Teachers openly speak out about school schedule

Heather Wirkus misses the emotional connection she makes with her students in person, however believes safety is more important as of right now.

Photo taken by Abigail Nevin ’23

Heather Wirkus misses the emotional connection she makes with her students in person, however believes safety is more important as of right now.

Abigail Nevin '23, Staff Writer

As COVID-19 cases have begun to rise in Fairfield County, the Westport Public School system has been nervously awaiting the news of whether or not the schedule will remain hybrid, go fully remote, or eventually return to an in-person practice. 

The importance of this decision is that it will impact the future health of the community and how students will learn during the upcoming school year.

I think for the safety of the teachers and the students, we should maintain the hybrid model until cases start to go down,” Spanish teacher Joseph Barahona said. 

Teachers at Staples share their opinions on the possibility of going back to school full time. (Photo by Abigail Nevin ’23)

While the uncertainty of the community’s future health and learning system has worried several teachers, many miss teaching fully in person.

“As for our school schedule, my heart and mind want two different things,” biology and forensics teacher Heather Wirkus said. “From a scientific perspective, I know that hybrid is necessary […] my heart as a teacher wishes for a different schedule.” 

For many teachers, the building of emotional connections with students is what makes being a teacher personal and exciting; however, in Zoom classes, it is much more difficult to make this connection with the students.

As a teacher, I would prefer to be back full time. I really miss the daily, personal connection that I often have with my students,” history teacher Nell-Ann Lynch said. 

Teachers have seemed to struggle this year as they miss teaching without a mask and the excitement of seeing students and colleagues daily. 

Although plenty of teachers miss the in-school experience, for the safety of their students and colleagues, many advocate for staying hybrid. 

“I’m really not sure that the cafeteria is okay even with where the numbers are right now,” chemistry and astronomy teacher Jacob Brewer said. “I would be totally comfortable if we didn’t have at least two hundred students every lunch wave eating with each other.” 

Although he is pleased with how everything is running as of now, Brewer also suggested that Staples, as well as other Westport Public Schools, could eventually go online full time. 

“Seems like someday somebody’s going to come into school and then we’re going to find out they test positive for COVID,” Brewer said. “So far [however] I’m pretty happy with what I’ve seen.”