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COVID-19 and Hurricanes: Teachers adjust to the unprecedented school year

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 3:45 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - 2020 has been an unprecedented year for all of us. From a global pandemic to multiple natural disasters, here in Central Louisiana, we’ve all learned how to roll with the punches.

KALB talked to local teachers in Rapides Parish to see how they’ve adjusted this school year.

“They’ve done really well coming back and just knowing, hey, we may not have school tomorrow because of a hurricane, but when we come back, we’re going to be back on task," said Tioga Elementary Second Grade Teacher, Kelli Tucker.

First students had to deal with COVID-19 and shortly after, not one, but two different hurricanes.

“One of my virtual students did, unfortunately, lose his home during Hurricane Laura," said Tioga Elementary Second Grade Teacher, Kelsey Simmons.

Thanks to a tree that fell on the school’s power line, students and teachers at Tioga Elementary were out of school for almost nine days following Hurricane Laura.

“That was a big disruption I guess, just because we felt like we had our groove going, and then it had to stop because of the hurricane," said Simmons.

A little over a month later and Hurricane Delta hit, knocking out power to the school once again.

“As of yesterday, some still didn’t have power at their house and I know that has been a big issue. But honestly it makes them even more excited to come to school because they’re able to come here and get what they need," said Tucker.

Teachers at the elementary school say they’ve had no choice but to roll with the punches.

“I’ve learned to become a lot more flexible. I’m a very structured person. Anybody that knows me knows that, and I think it’s just helped me to grow and not take everything so seriously," said Tucker.

Simmons says now more than ever, it’s important for her to be there for her students.

“We ask our students daily just from a place of concern, how are you doing? How can I help you, and we just try to support them through every aspect at Tioga Elementary and then we just provide where we can.”

Second Grade Teacher, Kelsey Simmons

It’s an adjustment that some kids are liking more than others.

“I had a student today tell me, I really love our school year this year because we get a lot of breaks and I just had to laugh at her. I was like ‘baby, I miss you so much whenever you’re gone’ and she said, ‘well I miss you too, but…’ And so some of them are enjoying the extra time, where some of them, of course, don’t have those necessities at home that we’re very thankful that we can provide here at school," said Simmons.

One thing is for certain at the end of the day, Simmons says it’s all about putting on a brave face and being there for her students.

“Teaching is something, it’s a work of heart so you have to be in it. It’s something that you love to do no matter what and so we are doing our best to accommodate and provide for our students.”

Second Grade Teacher, Kelsey Simmons

Teachers at the elementary school also teach their virtual students as well. As of Thursday, there are a total of 63 virtual students still enrolled.

Principal Crystal Furniss tells us any student that’s enrolled in virtual can switch to in-person instruction at any time. All they have to do is call the school at 318-640-9494.

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Copyright 2020 KALB. All rights reserved.

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