‘We’re in this together’: Pasco teacher shares hopes for the school year

PASCO, Wash. — Pasco School District teachers are preparing to go back to school next week as a new wave of COVID-19 sweeps through the state.

Jennifer Collins — a fifth grade teacher at Mark Twain Elementary and an executive board member of the Pasco Association of Educators — shared her hopes for the upcoming year with KAPP-KVEW.

“My biggest goal is that everyone experiences success and knows by the end of the year that they can do anything,” Collins said.

Collins said teaching virtually was one of the hardest experiences in her teaching career, but with the help of her tech-savvy students, she was able to make it work.

“Some of them excelled in ways that I never imagined that they would,” Collins said.

Though many students struggled with hybrid and remote learning, Collins said they pushed through those challenges to learn new things.

“They taught me to kind of be brave and try something new,” Collins said. “That’s something that I’m really bringing with me into the school year.”

The state’s decision to require all teachers to get the COVID-19 vaccine and for everyone to wear face masks has sparked both support and protests from parents and educators.

“Everybody has a different opinion — at this point we can just do what we’ve been told to do,” Collins said. “We’ll be wearing masks and sanitizing and social distancing and doing what we’re supposed to do.”

Collins said with a year and a half of experience teaching during the pandemic, she feels more prepared for the upcoming school year — despite the continued prominence of COVID-19.

“I think everybody has the same worry; we don’t know what COVID is going to do,” Collins said. “We have no idea and we’re just trying to keep ourselves and one another as safe as humanly possible.”

Collins said she’s looking forward to seeing her students laugh, giggle and enjoy being together with other kids. While she hopes they’ll be in person for the whole year, if COVID-19 guidelines change, she and the other teachers will continue to make the best of it.

“If we have to make modifications and change things at the last minute on the spur of the moment — that’s what we’ll do,” Collins said. “We’re good at that.”

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