By: Abby Gott — School News Editor
In the fall of 2020 with Covid infections still high, teachers around the country were faced with the difficult decision of whether or not to return back to school in person or take a leave of absence.
For those who opted to take a leave, the school that they left is not the same school they came back to this fall.
Mr. James Acone, a Sharon High math and media teacher, said that he had no other choice but to take a year off because he had to take care of his daughter. “My mother-in-law was going to do it but she was super high risk, so with me going into the building and coming back she wasn’t really available for that. I took care of my daughter because we couldn’t otherwise get child care,” said Acone.
Ms. Leah Silipo, a Sharon High Spanish teacher, said that her kids’ school schedules were all over the place. “It would have been impossible for my family to get everyone where they needed to go if I was working. It was a sacrifice and also the best decision for my family,” said Silipo.
Silipo adds that “teenagers are her people”, so she greatly missed the students and the energy of being in the school.
Tayna Wadekar, a Sharon High junior, says that it is completely reasonable that some teachers took a year off. “Last year we didn’t really know what would happen and everything was in a state of confusion,” said Wadekar.
Wadekar added that forcing teachers back into the school whether they wanted to or not was really scary, especially for people who have children.
Ms. Lori Novick, a Sharon High English teacher, said how she missed the spirit of the school. “I missed hearing students’ opinions about just about everything, and often wondered what you all were thinking about significant national and international events (as well as new TV shows streaming on Netflix and Hulu!). I also missed working with my colleagues,” said Novick.
Acone said how it was hard to walk away from last year’s group of seniors. “I missed the students, especially last year’s group of seniors. I had a really good crew for my junior-senior media class, and I have been working with them since I took the job over, so I was looking forward to working with them. That made the decision even harder,” said Acone.
Novick said that while she wasn’t teaching she was able to participate in an MIT program. “I met teachers from all over the world through an MIT program, enrolled in workshops that focused on dismantling and challenging racism, and learned from amazing teachers at Facing History and Ourselves,” said Novick.
Silipo says she feels safe regarding covid protocols in school this year. “I am pleased with the high rate of vaccination in town and among staff and students. All my students are really respectful of me and of each other and in general take mask wearing seriously,” said Silipo.
Acone says that being back in school feels different than it was before Covid. “Overall I feel a little rusty. It’s harder to get to know my students when I can only see the top half of their faces,” said Acone.
Silipo says that it was an adjustment to switch to wearing masks all day while teaching. “Like anything else, there was an adjustment period but overall, much more good than bad and I am really and truly happy to be here,” said Silipo.