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'You just have to control what you can' | Teachers talk about returning to on-campus learning

Many Houston area districts are currently phasing in in-person instruction
Credit: Spring ISD

HOUSTON, Texas — Alvin ISD's Rita Coulon is a veteran educator.

"29 years," Coulon said.

While Spring ISD’s Karisma Brooke is still in her 20s.

"This will be year four for me,” she said.

But both have equal experience when it comes to teaching during a pandemic.

"Never did I think this is what I’d be doing, as far as teaching is concerned,” Brooks said.

Brooks, who teaches second grade, began in-person learning just this week and believes her district made campuses as safe as possible.

"There's no way to guarantee 100% safety," said Brooks.

Coulon, who teaches at Shadow Creek High School, agrees.

“I will say, in the beginning, I was very skeptical and very leery about what it was going to look like,” Coulon said. "But we have masks, we have shields, we have PPE."

She’s been at it on-campus for three weeks and believes most older students realize the importance of complying with COVID-19-related rules.

"And a lot of our students and teachers, you know, go home to people who really need to be protected,” Coulon said.

Brooks said younger students take a little longer to learn new protocols, but teaching them in-person doesn’t compare to remote instruction.

"When you have remote learning, it’s not easy to personalize that learning because all of the kids are in different places," said Brooks. "And it requires a lot of parental support, and that is not always a given.”

They were aware of violations reported this week by fellow educators from 135 districts across the state and said issues certainly exist.

RELATED: Texas teachers call out numerous COVID-19 safety violations at schools in recent TSTA survey

But they believe everyone, including administrators, are on somewhat of a learning curve.

"Things are constantly changing, so you just have to adjust at all points and you just have to control what you can,” Brooks said.

"Right now, this is what the new normal looks like," Coulon said.

Both Coulon and Brooks belong to a local American Federation of Teachers, or AFT, chapter.