"We're teachers because we love to teach, we're teachers because we love to support kids and we want to see them successful. We're doing everything we can in this difficult situation, this distance learning."
DUSTIN DORSEY: For more than 300 days this is what most public school campuses looked like in the South Bay, empty. But that doesn't mean the work has stopped.
REBECCA MUNSON: OK friends, let's go ahead and get started, OK? We're teachers because we love to teach. We are teachers because we love to support kids, that we want to see them successful. And we are doing everything we can to-- to make that happen in this difficult situation, this distance learning.
DUSTIN DORSEY: Frost Elementary first grade teacher, Rebecca Munson, has had to redesign what she has done throughout her nearly 10 year teaching career. I asked her what challenges have come up throughout this process and in true teacher form she shared the difficulties her students are facing first. Then she told me her biggest struggle.
REBECCA MUNSON: We not only do academics, but we do social-emotional learning too and just supporting them where they need that. And so that's been a big challenge for me to be able to, you know, try to build those relationships.
DUSTIN DORSEY: For some the struggle comes from where they'll be working. Some will teach here in front of empty classrooms at the school. Others, like Hayes Elementary fourth grade teacher, Jens Sputari.
JEN SPITERI: Well, I don't eat dinner at my kitchen table anymore.
DUSTIN DORSEY: Her home has turned into a classroom. Anything she could do to give the best education to her students she does with the hopes they could be prepared to return to normal schooling soon.
JEN SPITERI: We want to go back too and go back when it's safe. And we all want what's best for the kids, and we all want to support them. But no matter what, I think the kids are learning. The data-- for my test results at least-- show that they're learning.
DUSTIN DORSEY: If it wasn't hard enough for these veteran teachers to learn a new way of doing work, try being a student teacher. That's the reality for Kendra Tu who's getting a unique perspective as she learns and works online with the Frost third and fourth grade combo class. She sees the work being done from both sides of the equation and hopes the communities she and her fellow teachers serve see it too.
KENDRA TU: We're trying to make sure that we're there for the kids, we're there for our communities, and we're there for ourselves as well. This is our opportunity to transform education and to make it more meaningful going forward.
DUSTIN DORSEY: With vaccines on the horizon in Santa Clara County, these teachers hope their districts can create a safe plan for everyone. So they can transform education in person very soon.