Students all over the world are returning to school, but their classrooms look a little different in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Janet Udomratsak has been a third-grade teacher at Tierra Bonita Elementary School in Lancaster, California, for the past 11 years. Her district will be fully remote for the rest of the year, so she hops online each morning to work with her students.
Recently, one of Janet’s observant little ones noticed her wearing plastic hospital bracelets on her wrist. That’s when the educator revealed something incredible: She wasn’t teaching from home at all. In fact, she was in the maternity ward at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills!
In January, Janet, who is pregnant with her second son, started experiencing complications. She was put on immediate bed rest and told to stay in the hospital so her doctor could monitor the rest of her pregnancy.
She was already planning to take maternity leave in October and her employer offers disability insurance, so she could have chosen to relax and focus on her health. But the stellar teacher had other plans!
“My love of teaching, for the kids, and building that relationship is so much stronger than me just wanting to sit and do nothing,” she said. “Obviously, that would be the life: to just take it all in and relax and not have to work. I would love doing that, but my desire is to be with the students.”
After getting advice from her doctor, the administration at her school, her husband Chris, and their 5-year-old son Henry, Janet committed to returning remotely!
Her doctor checks her monitors constantly to ensure she’s not stressing herself or the baby, and everyone on staff knows to steer clear of her room while she’s “in class.”
She even set up a classroom backdrop in the corner of her hospital room, which is why her students didn’t catch on right away!
When it comes down to it, Janet said teaching from the hospital isn’t much different than teaching from home. Regardless of where she’s located, the beginning of the school year is a crucial time for establishing a student-teacher relationship, so she simply refused to miss out.
Unfortunately, visitation is restricted, so she has only been able to see her husband and son once in about two months. But since she gets to spend time with her students every weekday, she hasn’t felt the same loneliness she might otherwise have endured.
These days, Janet believes it’s especially important for teachers to show their students that they’re not alone. After all, everyone is adapting to the “new normal” of life during a pandemic.
“It’s something that is new for all of us, and I want to show them that I am there with them,” she said. “The struggle is real for me as a teacher; it’s real for them as the students, and really, that we are all in it together.”
This wonderful educator is giving new meaning to the expression “going above and beyond the call of duty.” What a powerful example to set for her students!
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