COVID-19 versus the education system

COVID has led to many teachers being sick and a shortage of substitutes. But is it interfering with students’ education?


Maddie Canada

A chair sits empty in a Freshman Campus biology lab. During the first month of 2022, around 100 teachers called in sick due to COVID reasons.

Ali Casey, Freshman Correspondant

After getting a last minute call, a substitute teacher hustles into a classroom, only to see all the students on their phones, not doing their assignments. Unable to grab the class’s attention, the substitute struggles with what to do next, only making their job way more difficult.

With Covid numbers rising to a total of 70,258 cases in McHenry County, schools are taking the mandate and protocols more seriously, especially with a shortage of staff.

This year alone, 141 teachers have called out sick because they have had COVID, or they have been exposed to it. Not only does this make it difficult for them to plan and grade from home, but it also puts strain on substitute teachers. This being said, MCHS alone has had a substitute shortage due to the amount of absent teachers. 

While at home, teachers have to push through and continue working, which consists of throwing together lesson plans and assignments that are self-explanatory, so that students are able to work on them without the teacher being in school. For teachers, it is important to plan lessons that will benefit the students educationally, while making sure that it is something they will get done on their own, which is something that not many students do.

“I think it’s a tough spot for teachers, because not a lot of people think about teachers as actual human beings, as bad as that sounds. It is not the teacher’s decision because of the mandates with covid and the protocols we have to follow,” says Andrew Stegenga, a social science teacher at the Freshman Campus. 

After doing online school through Zoom for over a year, students have developed bad habits when it comes to school work, such as not turning in assignments on time, not paying attention in class, and not caring about their grades. 

 “I understand it was a hard year and a half, and a lot of people went through a lot of different things that most people probably do not even think about, but I am hoping students start caring about their futures again and putting in the effort in order to set themselves up to have options when they get into their senior year.” says Stegenga. 

Teachers hope that students will start to use their resources for their school work when they don’t understand something, especially when a teacher is absent. Teachers really want students to get the education they deserve, and part of that is students learning how to mature and work on being independent to get work done.

Tamrah Pitz, the Spanish teacher at the freshman campus explains, “I think most students will realize that at some point, they are responsible for their education and that the school is doing what they can do to help. If they haven’t  already started, I hope they will tap into resources and ask for help when they need it.”

Subs are running around the building, and teachers are having to teach from home and grade assignments. Students are expected to start doing their part by getting their assignments in on time, and paying attention in their classes. It not only makes the jobs of teachers and subs a lot easier, but can prepare students for their future as well.