Education Matters: Managing mental health while the pandemic rages

Education

FRESNO, California (KSEE) – As COVID-19 surges in California, many school districts are postponing plans to bring students back into the classroom.

The virus continues to have a huge impact on the classroom.

Gina Kazanjian has been teaching for 32 years. She and others in the classroom will tell you this is not how they like to teach.

“Our jobs have never been geared to be online,” said Kazanjian. “We are face to face teachers with our students.”

In March, 2020, everything about the way teachers teach changed overnight.

“We were scared, we didn’t know what was happening when we first got the announcement and told basically to grab our laptops and we weren’t sure when we were coming back.”

Kazanjian, along with hundreds of Fresno County teachers, were just beginning to experience how COVID-19 would impact their teaching, their students, and their own personal lives.

Her cousin, Terese Caire, was also a teacher in southern California. When classrooms closed, they supported each other talked about their daily challenges.

“We had shut down on March 13th and by the end of the following week she started not feeling well.”

Five weeks later, Kazanjian’s cousin passed away from COVID-19.

Her mother, in a Fresno nursing home, also contracted COVID-19. She initially recovered, only to succumb to conditions related to the virus in August. Through all of this, Gina Kazanjian continued to teach her students.

“I didn’t let them know what I was dealing with personally till closer to the end.”

Fresno County Superintendent of Schools says many teachers are experiencing losses like Mrs. Kazanjian, encouraging them to take advantage of the resources offered by their school district and Fresno County.

“This has not been easy on anyone it doesn’t matter who you are,” said Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino. “It doesn’t matter how you feel about getting some of those services. This is the time you should reach out for it and take it.”

Gina did take leave from her job this past semester. During the holiday season decorated her Christmas tree with ornaments to honor those lost. Monday was Kazanjian’s first-day teaching after taking leave.

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