The Classroom

2022 Annual Juried Exhibition
Michael Mitchell


Back in September, amid rising Covid cases, students returned to the classroom for in-person teaching. Wearing masks was "strongly recommended" but could be not enforced. Many teachers, much less students, did not know how to wear a mask properly. Budget cuts meant there were fewer teachers and larger classes.
Teachers were given contradictory priorities: To manage a classroom filled with young people who had not been in a classroom for nearly 2 years, and protect the health of the students and community by maintaining social distancing. It was put on teachers to figure out how to space everyone out at least 3 feet in small spaces. It was then their job to make sure students maintained that spacing. Each table needed to be disinfected in the 5 minutes before each class even though the only available sprays required 10 minutes. Plastic shields were placed at each seat, but made it difficult for students and teachers to hear and see. Through all of this, teachers were expected to instruct the students, and the students were expected to learn.
Even in a large room, like I teach in, claustrophobia built on top of anxiety. The space bent in on itself from the density of the clutter and the burdens of teaching a class in the middle of a pandemic.

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