Throughout my time at St. Albans, I have heard a lot about the St. Albans Man. I always wondered what differentiated a St. Albans education from the education that you would get at any other school. Our curriculums are not radically different, nor do we explicitly focus on preparing students for life after St. Albans, so why are we different? After much thought, I came to realize that our teachers are what makes St. Albans Men.
I think the greatest strength of our faculty is the diversity of opinions and the freedom they have to teach their class how they please. At St. Albans, teachers often aren’t constricted by standardized curriculums, which not only allows them to teach what material they want to but also gives them the freedom to pass their personality and wisdom on to the students. This means that whether or not a student enjoys a certain teacher’s class or teaching style, they can learn valuable lessons that extend outside the classroom from understanding their teachers on a personal level. I doubt I would be the person I am today without the influence of all my teachers, whether I had a good experience in their class or not. These teachers are what makes St. Albans so special, and in a way, I wrote this article to try and repay them for the impact they have had on me.
As all of you know, our school will be reopening on October 26th. For brevity’s sake, I will not argue the merit of this decision, but only some of the repercussions it is having on our community. Recently, the District of Columbia had it’s most new Covid-19 cases since June, which signals that at least, the virus is not going away any time soon. Fortunately, as a student, I have been given the choice to either go to school in person or to continue learning from home when we reopen. Unfortunately, this choice is not being extended to the most important part of this institution: the teachers. As of now, teachers are being put into a few categories that will decide how they proceed with returning to school. If a teacher is over 60 years old or is the primary caregiver of someone over 60 years old, they will not be required to return in person. If a teacher has a preexisting health condition or is the primary caregiver of someone with a preexisting health condition, they will also not be required to return in person; however, if a teacher does not fall into one of these categories, they are faced with a bad choice. They can either return to school in person, risking their health, or they can take unpaid leave, risking their financial security. This is an awful choice for anyone to make. Whether or not they are at serious risk of dying to the virus, it is undeniable that Covid-19 has both major short term and long term repercussions for people of any age. On the other hand, if teachers don’t want to risk getting the virus, they lose their primary source of income in a time where the economy has been very unstable. Out of these two options, there is no good choice.
In addition, this makes me ask why teachers of all ages and conditions can’t teach from home if they choose to? If there are already teachers over 60 teaching from home, why should teachers under that age be forced into a lose-lose situation? There is one phrase I have heard more than anything else in my time at this school, ‘Choose the hard right over the easy wrong.’ Why does that not apply here? No human being should be forced to choose between their health or their financial security, let alone people so integral to the functioning of this institution.
This is a choice that is being forced onto people all over the country in this trying time. Thankfully, in this situation, we have a real opportunity to make a meaningful change. I don’t have a solid solution, but if we organize and advocate for our teachers together, we can repay them for all they have done for us. I can not emphasize how important this really is.
Thank you, and enact the changes you want to see,
An Anonymous STA Student.
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The content of this article, as with every article posted on The Exchanged, does not represent the views of the staff of The Exchanged nor the National Cathedral School, St. Albans School, Protestant Episcopal Foundation, or any employee thereof. Opinions written are those of the writer and the writer alone.