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After three years of COVID, survey shows Louisiana Black educators experience an array of emotions
Forty Louisiana educators completed an online survey designed to understand—as much as possible—the impact three years of the coronavirus pandemic has had on them.
Forty Louisiana educators completed an online survey designed to understand—as much as possible—the impact three years of the coronavirus pandemic has had on Louisiana educators, including paraprofessionals, teaching staff, and principals.
Overall, their responses spanned every emotion: fearful, depressed, isolated, unsupported, less-than-human, proud of their adaptability, happy for new connections, and motivated.
Through their written responses, the educators said they faced significant challenges including “unfair expectations” for them to work as normal, students not having laptops or internet at home, students not being in safe environments, students declining academically, students needing but not receiving interventions or special needs assistance, and even coping with COVID illnesses and deaths.
“I felt like we were challenged to pretend like COVID didn’t exist and to just keep it moving,” wrote one educator.
What needs did educators have that were not met? Educators said they needed digital copies and supplies, social and emotional support, mental health sessions for students, technological support, counseling and coaching, clear expectations, extra income, and extra days “to take care of ourselves and family.” Mental health or social-emotional training or sessions were not offered to them or their students during COVID or as a response to the COVID pandemic from 2020 to the present, said 51.4% of the educators. Thirty-eight percent said it has been “extremely difficult” to educate students since the start of the COVID pandemic until today.
“It wasn’t just the children who were going through things. But the adults were going through things as well, they had to go through the adjustment. And so many of them look forward to going to school every day, to serve our students, they look forward to going to work, they look forward to being a part of something. And imagine all of that just being disrupted abruptly, just coming to a screeching halt. That does something to people,” said Tia Mills, Ed.D, an educator of more than 14 years and president of the Louisiana Association of Educators.
More than 55% said they contracted COVID, and 71% said their students did also. Although all of these educators said they and their students experienced new connections and friendships, 100% percent said they, their families, and their students experienced depression and loneliness. One educator stated their level of enjoyment for teaching “definitely has diminished because the students have had a two-year gap in socialization and real structure.”
Looking back over the three years of the pandemic, these educators said they are most proud of their resilience, problem-solving abilities, endurance, and their “prevailing passion” for their work.
This may be why even after facing six surges of the COVID virus over the past three years, 89% of the Black educators surveyed remained K-12 educators. “Despite past stress, I am still able to teach our future,” wrote one teacher anonymously.
Deandria Burris, a math interventionist in Caddo Parish said she feels “compensated, appreciated, and loved.”
“You never know how you will navigate a crisis until you are in one, and the COVID crisis brought out the best in me. I did some of my best teaching during COVID and marvel at how well some of my students performed on their LEAP assessment. So overall, I feel proud,” said Tanisca Wilson, Ph.D., a New Orleans educator.
Louisiana educators can add their experiences by completing the survey at www.JozefsyndicateLa.com.
BY CANDACE J SEMIEN/Jozef Syndicate
This story is part of a three-article news series on the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on Black K-12 educators in Louisiana. Read Educators quickly responded to COVID-19 but how has it impacted them? and Where were you on March 9, 2020? Black educators remember the early days of COVID-19 for more.