For Lisa Kamp, a special education teacher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, COVID-19 is a real danger to her students. She works for the district’s Homebound program, teaching students she refers to as a “category of forgotten children.” Some are transplant recipients, others are expectant mothers, and a few are completely non-verbal. Even before the pandemic, Kamp says she already had to take precautions before entering the homes of children with fragile immune systems, but now the danger is far worse – and not just for her students. Kamp herself has an autoimmune disease.
“I don’t understand how they’re going to do this. Just open up like nothing’s wrong and put these kids in danger, not only academically, but healthwise,” she worries. The school district, she adds, has not been helpful. “I know the general education students were given Chromebooks, but when we asked for our kids, we were totally ignored. We were told they could use their parents’ phones.” In March, when schools originally closed, Kamp delivered lesson packets to children’s homes. She says she’d rather do that again than risk physical contact with her students.
Despite the risks associated with reopening, some teachers said they’re ready to get back into classrooms. In an email to Intelligencer, one Oklahoma teacher says that infection rates in her rural community are still low, and she feels safe enough to work with protective gear and social-distancing in place. “Virtual learning in my community is tough. Some have no access to the internet. I do not have access to the internet at my home,” Jerricho McCrary explains. “I am worried my students have regressed so much that there is no return.”