Story by Kaitlyn Olsteen
Being the principal of a Christian school already had its challenges, but COVID-19 made everything much harder. Elizabeth Vanover is the principal of Gate City Christian school, located in Virginia. She has been in education for about twenty years and has a love for empowering her students.
Vanover is constantly worried about the safety of her students and staff. At any time, someone could be bringing COVID-19 into the school without knowing it.
“I wish I had a crystal ball to see if Johnny’s runny nose was COVID or not,” said Vanover. Anytime one of her students has any symptoms that may be a sign of COVID, that child must be sent home from school.
Many students do not have their parents at home with them. Vanover explained that their parents have jobs, and they must provide for their children. Students are left responsible for their own work, and many students choose to fall behind.
“When you put COVID and virtual learning on top of each other, it’s a nightmare. I think it will affect us for years to come,” said Vanover. The school has already been shut down multiple times this year, and virtual learning has become a normal occurrence for her students.
Many teachers are losing their passion for their jobs, as they struggle to keep their students involved in their work. Many students are failing their classes, because of how school was in March 2020. “I’m looking at negative test results and wondering how Johnny is doing with his algebra today,” said Vanover.
Vanover is taking as many precautions as she can to ensure that COVID-19 is not brought into the school. Students are required to always wear masks and social distance, and the staff is required to take breaks in between classes to clean everything in the school.
Somehow COVID is still finding its way inside of the school. An elderly teacher caught COVID at the school and ended up taking it home to her at-risk husband. He was hospitalized and put on a ventilator. The doctors did not think he would make it through, but he fought hard and beat it.
Principal Vanover shut the school down for the month after to prepare even more. “If he had died, how could we have ever walked back into school?” Vanover asked.
Teachers and students alike are struggling to keep their head above water during the pandemic. Vanover is carrying the weight on her shoulders. She continues to fight for the education of her students.
Vanover explains that the pandemic has taught her that we must all work together and keep our eyes focused on the end goal. “Making sure the students get an education that will help them make it in this world is my goal,” said Vanover.
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