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COVID-19 and schools: NE Texas and SW Arkansas educators find ways to cope amid pandemic

Education

TEXARKANA, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – Teaching during a pandemic has taken its toll on educators in Northeast Texas and Southwest Arkansas, along with the rest of the country. Finding ways to care for themselves and others has been key to coping and staying healthy.

From preparing lessons, changing their styles and teaching methods, to following all CDC guidelines, teachers in Northeast Texas and Southwest Arkansas have been working around the clock.

“From day to day, you never know which students are going to be in the classroom, which students are going to be on quartine, which students have tested positive, and which students are going to be at home, and so you’ve kind of got to plan for all of those different situations and that can be very stressful,” said Paul Pewitt High School teacher Shane Sibley.

Through the love of teaching, teachers have been dealing with self-quarantines and trying to keep a positive outlook on teaching during COVID-19.

“Last year, we hugged our babies and we will like to get all in their face and love on them and stuff. This year you can’t do that,” said Liberty Eylau Early Childhood Center teacher’s aide DeLayne Bias.

Several teachers say they have had to learn how to make time for themselves to keep their mental and physical health in check.

“You got to find an escape place. At our school, we talk about the seven habits and one of them is sharpen the saw. Finding time to take care of yourself and stay true to who you are,” said Spring Lake Park Elementary teacher Jeffery Ladd II.

With more than 25 years of experience, Liberty Eylau Middle School teacher Connie Green says the education environment has changed drastically.

“When I first began, everybody walked around, it was just like everybody walked and did what they wanted to do in the realms of education, now the environment is more stressful, you can see it.
You can see the stress you can feel the stress, you are always looking for new things to have to do,” said Green.

No matter the length of time or the subjects teachers have spent teaching, they say it is an adjustment to learn how to teach virtually.

“You know you have to grow and change so on top of this stuff, it has been a challenge but I defiantly think I have experienced more and become a way better teacher, this year than any other
year in my career,” said Westlawn Elementary teacher Jade Duhart.

2019-2020 Union Elementary Teacher of The Year, Kashandra Murphy, tested positive for COVID-19 and double pneumonia while teaching. She was hospitalized twice, in Texarkana and in Little Rock.

“I thought I was doing everything right as far as taking my vitamins every day, disinfecting, washing my hands, and wearing my mask,” said Murphy.

Feeling blessed to be here, Murphy got an opportunity to speak with her students while in the hospital.

“Some of my babies were very upset they were emotional and crying, and I had to reassure them that I was going to be ok,” Murphy continued.

Despite the pandemic, teachers are still sticking together and offering advice to one another.

“Try to leave as much at school as you can and when you go home, be home with your family and enjoy the time that you have with your family and get school out of your mind,” said Liberty Eylau Middle School teacher Allison Brown.

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