Teachers return to school after leave of absence

As the school year continues, many teachers are still anxious about being back in the classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic. For this same reason, teachers are taking extra precautionary measures to ensure everyone is safe, including themselves. 

English teacher Nancy Ogden had taken a leave of absence during the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year. Due to her husband being in a high-risk COVID-19 group, Ogden and her husband both believed that taking the first semester off would be the safest decision for both of them. 

“I came to all the professional development days before school so that I would have some idea of what was going on,” Ogden said. “I set up the first week for my sub so I did the first week for him then I tried to let him have it and not micromanage.”

While Ogden was gone, a Springdale contract teacher was able to take her place and make sure Ogdens students had a good first semester. As the semester progressed, and COVID cases rising, Ogden was glad she was able to take the time off in order to stay healthy. 

“I appreciated the district letting me do that,” Ogden said. “I had enough sick days that I took sick days off and I still have sick days. I appreciated the fact that they honored the fact that I don’t usually take off work and let me use those sick days.” 

Librarian Ginny Poepsel started the new school year on maternity leave while she awaited the arrival of her baby. Since this is her first year, being gone became a little harder than anticipated. 

“Coming back the week before Thanksgiving  was a little hard especially since it’s my first year being here,” Poepsel said. “So I don’t know everybody yet and with masks and being gone for basically the first quarter of school, coming back was a little overwhelming as far as trying to get to know people and figuring out who everybody is with masks on.”

Although Poepsels absence at the beginning of the school year, she still took the time during the summer to attend virtual trainings and conferences. These meetings were designed to help librarians manage COVID-19 within the school library. 

“We did a zoom conference with them to talk about libraries during COVID and how to manage a library space and what to do with books and whether to quarantine them,” Poepsel said. “So we did do a lot of preparation as far as getting the space ready and what we were going to do to manage COVID here.”

Despite the odd start to the new school year, teachers in similar positions as Ogden and Poepsel are thrilled to be back in the classrooms.

“I’m super glad to be here I love my job but I’m glad to be at Har-Ber this year, like I said there have been some weird aspects of it but I’m very excited to be at Har-Ber and I love my job so I’m excited to be back but it has been a little strange at the same time,” Poepsel said.