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An Oregon teacher's take on going back-to-school amid COVID-19

Teacher Kelli Ryan said normally, at this point, she’d be finding ways to spruce up her classroom. But this go-around, her thoughts are on social distancing.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

PORTLAND, Ore. — Before we know it the school year will be here, and right now districts all over are trying to come up with plans to keep everyone safe when they head back to class.

We decided to check back in with Kelli Ryan, who will be a 1st grade teacher at Oak Grove Elementary in the North Clackamas School District.  She spoke to KGW in the spring about distance learning and we decided to follow up with her to get her take on the coming year.

“It’s definitely been nice to have a little break,” said Ryan.

But the clock is ticking and she’s already planning for the start of school in the fall.

RELATED: Back to school in Oregon: What your district's plan looks like

She said normally at this point, she’d be finding ways to spruce up her classroom. But this go-around, her thoughts are on social distancing.

“Now I’m thinking do I have to change my whole room setup,” Ryan said. “We have to rethink how we’re doing everything.”

Right now, districts all over are trying to prepare for multiple scenarios. Possibilities include students learning in person at school, remotely, or a hybrid of the two. 

Districts have until August 15 to submit plans to the Oregon Department of Education. Looking to the fall, Ryan said she appreciates the safety measures already being taken at her school, but social distancing is going to be difficult especially for first graders.

“Teachers are a little nervous about the close contact with students,” said Ryan.

She said there’s no way to know what a child is exposed to outside of school before they come back to her classroom.

RELATED: Back to school in Southwest Washington: What your district's plan looks like

Ryan is worried about her high-risk loved ones, namely her 80-year-old dad.

“Whatever I’m exposing myself to, then I have to be careful taking that to him. So that part of it is a little bit scary,” Ryan said.

She’s not alone. 

A post on Facebook has thousands of comments and shares from teachers across the country. Many of them wonder if they’ll be forced to risk their or their loved ones lives in order to have a job, if high-risk teachers with health issues will be required to teach, and how the sanitation process will work.

These are all questions teachers hope will get answered, but Ryan has faith it’ll all work out.

“I hope they’re thinking about the safety of everyone,” said Ryan.

“It seems like it’s going to be an intense year for teaching and for learning.”

Ryan said she’s also concerned about her students. She said they need to get back up to speed after missing so much school because of COVID-19 and someone needs to talk to them about what’s going on in the world, from the pandemic to the protests.

Watch: Congrats to the Class of 2020