Local teachers on social distancing in school: ‘It’s simply not possible’

Teachers face challenges with students and social distancing

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Tri-State school districts are working hard to prepare schools for students to return to the classroom in a few weeks, but the prospect of enforcing social distancing among children remains a concern.

Six feet of separation — that is one of the guidelines on which Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is requesting adherence, 6 feet between students and their fellow students, between students and teachers, between students and school staff.

FOX19 NOW spoke with some school teachers who say that’s going to be tough.

Alejandra Lopez is a second-grade teacher. She says she uses groups in nearly every classroom exercise.

“That is the whole reason we go to school is to get that social interaction,” Lopes said.

She adds as a point of logistics the 6 feet rule is not realistic.

“I mean, mathematically, it is impossible,” she explained. “I have 30 children in my classroom. Keeping them 6 feet apart is simply not possible.”

Nicole Campbell, a fourth-grade teacher, agrees on different grounds.

“We are relationship-based,” she said. “That can be teacher-student, or student-student.

“Kids in my fourth-grade classroom are constantly sent off to work as partners to read a book. While I am working with three kids, other kids are working around the room. (Now) we have to stay in one seat and stay there.”

One of the biggest challenges these educators are facing is teaching their students how to read.

“When I am reading with them,” said teacher Kelly Livingston, “I am sitting next to them, sharing that book together, reading, and I point out those skills. I will not be able to do that. I cannot do that from this far away with a plexiglass shield.”

“We cannot take the social part out and expect to get the same benefits,” Campbell said. “It will not happen.”

“The quality of education, if we go back, will not be any good for them, because school is social interaction,” Lopes added.

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