Local teachers talk about heading back to in-person classes, remarks by Gov. Parson

Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 6:23 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 22, 2020 at 7:01 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) --“If it weren’t for the kids I wouldn’t be going back.”

It’s her love for making a difference in young students lives that’s sending Susie Compton back to her 3rd grade class at Truman Elementary this year despite the extra work and danger of being a teacher during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“For me it’s faith, family and your passion,” Compton said. “And my passion is educating children.”

Compton is the Springfield CTA President for the Mo. State Teachers Association and has family and relatives with a combined 100-plus years of education service.

Now in a world where teachers are already asked to be everything from role models to surrogate parents to police officers, this year they’ll be adding chief sanitizer and nurse to their roles.

Lisa Funk, Compton’s sister-in-law who just retired after 29 years, decided to teach summer school one last time and experienced the new safety protocols.

“It was a chore,” Lisa said. “I’m hoping that school districts will have something in place for the mental and physical tolls that it’s going to take on the teachers.”

“I’m not sure how we’ll social distance during recess to be honest,” Compton said of her concerns this fall. “For years we’ve been encouraging kids to get together and brainstorm and create things together and that’s going to be a shift in paradigm because the health aspect of it is really going to change the teamwork approach.”

The teachers worry about losing their personal relationships with students by not being able to do some of the things they usually do.

“A complete education is not going to come from a computer,” said Zachary Funk, Lisa’s son and an agriculture teacher at Morrisville this coming year after moving from Greenfield. “There’s so much in a course that’s hands-on and there’s so many other aspects, the human aspect, the emotional aspect, that you don’t get through a computer screen.”

“One of the key components in teaching is creating that family relationship with your students,” Compton added. “If there’s something happening in their lives where they need that hug, that’s going to be the hardest part.”

“Just a pat on the back goes a long way and they’re not going to be able to get that,” said Lonnie Compton, Susie’s husband and a former counselor-educator with 31 years experience. “I was very proud of the way my wife finished last year off teaching online from our front bedroom and there were always several kids who wanted to hang around online because they were missing that camaraderie.”

With school now a month away for most districts, there’s a lot of talk about the safety of going back to in-person classes and during a radio interview at the end of last week, Missouri Governor Mike Parson made headlines with some controversial remarks about children returning to school.

“These kids have got to get back to school,” he said. “They’re at the lowest risk possible and if they do get COVID-19, which they will, and they will when they go to school, they’re not going to the hospitals. They’re not going to have to sit in doctor’s offices. They’re gonna go home and they’re going to get over it and most of it all proves out to be that way if you look at the science of it. We gotta get real with that and realize that we gotta move forward.”

“I’m a fan of Governor Parson and he’s from my hometown,” Lisa Funk said. “And whenever I heard that, I was like, ‘Whoa, I can’t believe he just said that.’”

“I like our governor as well but it was extremely disappointing to hear those words from his mouth,” Susie Compton said.

The Missouri National Education Association released a statement from President Phil Murray saying, “Governor Parson’s statement demonstrates a callous disregard for the suffering of children and the safety of parents, grandparents, educators and students that will be put at risk if schools are reopened with improper plans and protections. When the Governor says that children are ‘gonna get over it’ he forgets that some children won’t. The Governor’s inaccurate and reckless statement should concern every Missourian.”

On Wednesday Governor Parson clarified his statement at a news conference.

“These comments weren’t articulated very well by me,” he said. “”I want all Missourians to know the safety of our students, our educators and our school employees is extremely important to me. I have six grandchildren, five of those have been or currently are in the public school systems. And for someone to use politics as a tool to say that I don’t give a damn about children is one sick individual.”

All Susie Compton knows is that she will take it very personally if this fall a child in her class contracts the virus.

“It will be very difficult,” she said. “Especially if they brought it home to someone who caused them to get gravely ill or even die. It would be heartbreaking.”

Copyright 2020 KY3. All rights reserved.

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