Dear editor, below is a free verse poem I wrote.

Education During a Pandemic

I want to hug my students

But only when it’s safe

In the spring, I helped their parents pay utility bills,

Forestall eviction,

Feed their children

My help provided through phone calls, emails, texts,

In a way that was safe

This summer I taught students virtually

The summer school program was safe

One of the parents of my summer students tested positive for COVID-19.

But the virtual education continued,

Because I was safe

I love my students so much

I want to teach them,

English, math, science, social studies, the arts,

To help them finish their homework,

To deal with their feelings and anxiety

But only in a way that is safe — for me and for them.

When I think of schools reopening, I think of ...

Bare classrooms with students unable to collaborate,

The grandparents that students go home to,

The parents with pre-existing conditions,

The staff members and their families

In a time of COVID-19,

There are no good answers,

Only less terrible ones.

As a teacher, I make plans for all scenarios

I picture in my head what public education in a pandemic could be

Churches that adopt a group of five to 10 students during virtual learning,

Businesses that donate devices and access to internet

Parents who sacrifice by keeping their children at home,

A community working together,

In a way that is safe

I’m here for my students

I’m here for their parents

I’m here for their grandparents and at-risk friends and family

I’m here for my fellow teachers, coworkers, and administrators

I’m here for my own family

I’m here for my community for you

In a way that is safe

Sarah Gump


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