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'There's a sigh of relief but also anxiety': Teachers share thoughts as Thanksgiving break begins

Many teachers remain concerned about student failure rates and rising COVID-19 cases.

HOUSTON — Spring High School is closed for Thanksgiving as are most Houston-area campuses. This week is giving students and their teachers some time to "gobble up" a little break.

"It’s like being a first-year teacher every single day, all day,” Houston ISD math lab teacher Maxie Hollingsworth said about this school year.

Spring ISD science teacher Zuriel Morales agreed.

"The COVID cases have drastically increased in the community,” Morales said. "It's been stressful."

They're worried, like other teachers who texted us, that cases may spike even more after the break.

"There’s a sigh of relief, but also anxiety,” Hollingsworth said.

They have the same feeling about how students are performing during the pandemic. Failure rates are also surging, especially among those learning from home.

"It’s very difficult to see when a student is struggling in a virtual space as opposed to them being in-person,” Morales said.

Learning virtually may protect you from a health standpoint. However, it may be hurting you educationally.

"Right,” Hollingsworth said.

She said many have gotten relatively comfortable with instructing two sets of students. But it’s definitely not ideal. Both she and Morales believe that STAAR testing should be postponed given all of the hurdles of the pandemic.

“I’m telling you, teachers and school districts have really made that pivot," Hollingsworth said. "It wasn’t a turn on a dime, but we have pivoted, and we’re doing the best we can.”

Morales said his campus gets constant updates on COVID-19 cases and cleaning and other protocols appear to be on track. But daily challenges persist.

“I’m sure they’re doing their very best," Morales said. "We all have been put into this last minute with the pandemic.”

It's a situation they don’t expect will dramatically improve as they continue to guide their students and themselves.

"Give a teacher a smiley face on an email or text message if you know one,” Hollingsworth said.