Teachers choose to stay at home

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Hope Li

Because of her medical condition, math teacher Kari Morita (top left) is allowed to teach from home during the shift from distance to hybrid learning. Substitute teacher Young Kim (bottom) comes to open the classroom for Morita’s live instruction students like senior Sara Abel (top right), who’s in Morita’s second period class.

Hope Li

Every day, he receives an issue of the Los Angeles Times, slides the paper from the bag, throws the plastic away and immediately decontaminates.

“I wash my hands completely,” said Michael Goulding, photography and video teacher for the Regional Occupational Program [ROP]. “It’s something that from the very beginning I was concerned with.”

Goulding is one of the school’s instructors who got permission to teach from home through Zoom instead of returning to school in person on Nov. 2, when the Fullerton Joint Union High School District shifted from a distance to hybrid learning schedule.

The 65-year-old instructor said he was concerned for his health if he were to teach from his classroom during the coronavirus pandemic.

Although Goulding originally intended to teach from home because of COVID-19 health and safety concerns, math teacher Kari Morita had a different medical reason.

“As I’ve shared with my students, I have epilepsy,” Morita said. “Although I’d been seizure free for several years, the stress and additional work since last spring when we went remote has brought my seizures back.”

Morita still teaches her Cohort A/B students over Zoom, while her substitute teacher, Young Kim, comes to campus to open the door to her classroom for those coming for live instruction throughout the school day.

“With my Algebra 1 students, she does examples with them and reviews problems from our notes,” Morita said.

Goulding compared his current classroom with his substitute instructor to his pre-COVID-19 pandemic one, including the changes made in the curriculum for his students.

“Normally, we share cameras, you go into a dark room and we work in very close quarters,” he said.

Senior Cherish Aldama, who is in Cohort B, missed the experience she could have had.

“I was really disappointed,” Aldama said. “I looked forward to learning to work a professional camera [and] use the darkroom.”

For Morita, her lesson changes consisted of moving materials and lessons online.

“I have video lessons for everything now — a great resource for my students, especially when Zoom gets laggy or the WiFi cuts out,” she said.

Ultimately, fostering connections with his students motivates Goulding to continue teaching in this situation.

“If I’m going to teach, I’m going to teach face to face,” he said. “I will do anything to do that, but I have my reasons why I’m hesitant to come back to school.”