10 April 2020  |

Dear Aunt Sevvy,

Almost a month ago our governor closed many businesses and all schools, including our church school. I’ve got children in grades 3, 4, and 9. They’re all home now, studying over the internet and getting materials dropped off by the teachers. 

Imagine my surprise when I suddenly got a bill from the school for the full amount of tuition! I called the school and complained, but they just said that the teachers are still working and being paid. I pointed out that the children aren’t exactly in school, and that even though my husband still has a job, mine has been cut, and they should cut their payroll too. What do you think, Aunt Sevvy? 

Signed, In My Opinion, Quite Unfair

Dear Unfair,

Many are suffering with challenging finances right now, and it sounds like you are one of them. But you asked about the school’s response, and because Aunt Sevvy isn’t involved with a school during this crisis, she turned to a church school teacher she knows and asked the question of her. Here’s part of her response:

Right now I’m working full days, and so are all the other teachers. We are expected to have an active internet presence and keep office hours. All of us have had to learn new technology. The high school teachers are recording entire lectures, while we elementary teachers are making work packets that we get out to students, plus reaching out via Zoom and FaceTime to try to keep our students motivated. 

I’ve been nothing but proud of my fellow teachers. We’re working long hours to keep learning happening, under circumstances that are new to us, too. The truth is, we are doing more than the public schools in our area are required to do. 

The question I’d ask this parent: does she want a school for her children to go back to? Because if we are let go, or have to seek other work because they’ve cut our pay, there may not be a faculty by next autumn.

I also know that our finance committee is working with families to address tuition problems so we still have students when and if school reopens in the fall.

And yet we know that with a few families, we’ll be damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Since this is the first time this has happened in our world, we need to be extra gracious toward one another—parents toward teachers and teachers toward families. So I’m trying not to take it personally when people like this mother complain. 

And that, dear questioner, is a better answer than Aunt Sevvy could provide!

Wishing you health and peace,
Aunt Sevvy

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