Teaching in Quarantine Offers Much Needed Free Time


Ethan Kelly

In a time where work is home, and home is work, teachers at Eleanor Roosevelt High School find themselves balancing newfound free time. With COVID-19 plaguing the nation, Prince George’s County resorted to a completely virtual first semester. Until the second semester, teachers will be able to teach from the comfort of their homes or at Roosevelt, but most teachers opt to stay home. With over 150 teachers at ERHS, many teachers that normally commute long distances, have more free time available.

Ms. Gerald, a history teacher at ERHS, says that rather than “an hour-and-a-half commute to and from school,” she is able to spend her time “running errands and doing chores.” Instead of just 2 planning periods, teachers have it combined with extra time where they would normally commute or prepare for an in-person school day. Though Gerald warns about the “boundaries between [work and chores]” to ensure that she is not working the entire day. Gerald says it is “difficult to shove off work” because her workplace and home are all-in-one. Ms. Hill, a math teacher, spends most of her free time “sleeping in except for days [she] goes to the gym at 5:30 AM.” With more time to sleep, she finds herself “more productive to teach in a virtual environment.” However, despite having more time to plan, she says “[her] mind needs a break from the computer” so she tries to “walk away from her computer” whenever she can. Ms. Holtz, an English teacher, says that prior to distance learning she had “never made breakfast, [and she’d] only make coffee and take it to go.” Teachers seem to have much more time in the morning to use than during a traditional school year. 

As teachers have more free time, students are noticing its impacts on the classroom as well. Senior Vice-President Princess Olubuse-Omisore says that “teachers are grading assignments much faster than regularly,” an issue important to students at ERHS. Students, during in-person learning, often found themselves waiting weeks, sometimes months for assignments, but as a result of distance learning, grading time has been improved dramatically. Receiving graded assignments has been expedited because teachers have more time to grade, positively impacting the classroom. Ruth Bridgers, a sophomore, says that “[her] teachers respond to emails much quicker” allowing her to get questions about the curriculum answered almost immediately, a luxury not always found during in-person instruction.

With public health being a top priority for PGCPS, and distance learning continuing until January, teachers have the ability to do more for themselves. While teaching virtually may be daunting, teachers find themselves more productive and committed to themselves and teaching than before. In the county with the most COVID-19 cases per population, PG county could very well end this year virtually. The school-shutdown not only provides teachers with more free time, but saves thousands of lives in the process. ERHS teachers know that they have the entire student and parent bodies behind them, support that perfectly captures the Roosevelt Way.