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Educator shares teaching challenges during pandemic | 'We're bombarded with children not feeling well'

A teacher shares her experience after her student tests positive for COVID-19.

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — Starting in late September, people who have gotten the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines will be able to get a booster shot. Top U.S. health officials now recommend a third shot eight months after the second to better protect people as the Delta variant rapidly spreads.

President Joe Biden addressed the nation Wednesday, echoing the need for more protection while calling on all eligible Americans to roll up their sleeves.

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 cases and people in the hospital continue to go up, quickly. 

Since students headed back to class in the metro-Atlanta area, cases in kids have steadily climb. Educators said they are seeing this, too.

A Clayton County 4th grade teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous, told 11Alive her students are getting sent home sick.

“I feel like it is truly every day we're bombarded with the children not feeling well, coughing, sneezing, diarrhea, stomach aches," she said.

The teacher said a student in her class tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday. Then Tuesday, she said her school announced teachers have to shift to hybrid learning, starting one day later. 

Wednesday was the first day teachers had to shift back to teaching in-person and virtually simultaneously.

"Each day, every single day, I can't emphasize that enough, every single hour, things are being updated and changed and our duties are being redefined," she said. "That is our biggest complaint. We talked to administration today about how frustrated we are that we were told, and we prepared for a certain way of teaching this year."

RELATED: Clayton County elementary school going virtual starting Thursday

She said that not only are educators having to switch the way they have to teach, but they also have to wear many hats.

“I'm a nurse now, too. So we have to discern [if a kid is sick]… and our nurse got sick, actually. So she had to go and quarantine.” 

Since Friday, many of her 18 students had to quarantine. Her class size has shrunk to five students learning in-person and more than 10 virtually.

"Being in the classroom with some virtual, some in person… If I'm going to do that, I would like a raise because it's twice as much work. Last year being virtual, they gave us that Friday to prepare that virtual lesson. We don't have that time this year. The students leave 30 minutes before the school day is up. I have 30 minutes to plan a whole virtual lesson and make those worksheets."

According to the COVID-19 surveillance report, the numbers of cases among children in the county are high and increasing. The school district’s data shows there have been 117 positive COVID cases from the week of July 30 through August 6. Numbers from last week have not been updated yet.

“So you start thinking, OK, who was standing next to who? Were they interacting? Were they sharing food? Were they keeping their mask on that day? We try to do contact tracing, but the kids are kids," she added. "They're kind of all over the place. So the contact tracing, in my opinion, is not accurate."

RELATED: Learning Curve | 500 days later, Clayton County teen returns to in-person learning

That's why she believes schools should be strictly virtual, until numbers start trending in the opposite direction.

“I do want to express the extreme difficulty and extreme stress. And we have children in front of us. I have to be calm and understanding with my students, no matter how frustrated I am with the situation," she said.

Clayton County Public Schools (CCPS), through a partnership with the Clayton County Health District, will be hosting mass vaccination drives on Saturday, August 21, 2021, at Mundy's Mill High School and on Saturday, August 28, 2021, at North Clayton Middle School respectively.

Editor's Note: The Learning Curve is an ongoing series on 11Alive and 11Alive.com that will follow the stories of local students as they navigate this unprecedented school year.

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