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Teachers coping with COVID in the classroom

School districts all around our area are coping with soaring teacher and student absences amid the latest COVID-19 surge.

BUSHKILL, Pa. — There aren't many students sitting in classrooms at East Stroudsburg High School North near Bushkill these days.

The latest surge in COVID-19 cases placed both students and teachers on the absent list from school.

"I, last year, had COVID and I was not happy about it. But, I also didn't let it get me down. Yeah, we are going to get through it. It's okay and we know that we will make the changes we need to and keep going," said Carolyn Cruz, Science Teacher.

Students who test positive usually log on and learn from home if they are well enough but it's not as easy if and when a teacher needs to quarantine. 

Adjustments have been made to keep kids learning and sometimes that means a visit from the principal.

"We were down a lot of staff members in a particular day and we have to step up and cover so our students can learn as best as possible. I have a teacher who is out for a reason dealing with COVID and they are teaching from home but we don't have anyone in the classroom. So, I alter what I am doing. I go and assist in the classroom. So the teacher is teaching from home, in google meet or google classroom, so students can learn," said Ben Brenneman, E. Stroudsburg HS North Principal.

Lian Mlodzienski is a science teacher at the high school.

She says the biggest challenge for her is the change in classroom dynamic when attendance is low. It has its pros and cons.

"When there are more students, students work together and it's easier to put them in groups and whatnot. When you are one student in ten you stand out more quickly. You stand out in a small classroom much sooner than you would in a bigger classroom. So in a sense, it's easier for me to identify students who might need help but are a little shyer to respond," said Lian Mlodzienski, Science.

East Stroudsburg High School North is mask optional, but the face coverings are recommended.

The principal hopes high case counts from the holidays continue to dip at the district so students and teachers can get back to learning.

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