Always learning, educating for the greater good

If anything is clear, all Ohioans have Covid-19 experiences

After Your Voice Ohio conducted five online dialogues with Ohioans in which they expressed concern for unclear messaging, lack of a plan, and politics taking precedence over science in the era of Covid-19, student interns in the Collaborative News Lab @ Kent State University were asked to interview several people from various parts of the state about their experiences dealing with the pandemic.

Over the next few weeks, Soapbox will share these stories.

Among the questions were: Have you been tested? How do you engage with others who have different perspectives? Gina Butkovich, Tramaine Burton, Paige Bennett, Jenna Borthwick, Kelsey Paulus, and Madison MacArthur did the reporting. Associate professor Susan Kirkman Zake advises the staff. The program is sponsored by the Scripps Howard Foundation.


Name: Student teacher, 21

Hometown: Dublin


After three years studying to work as a teacher in a classroom, her final education will be student teaching 100 percent online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


“As a teacher, one thing that they do tell us is that you always need to be learning,” the Columbus-area teacher says. “You can’t one day know everything. So it’s a lot of learning as you go so you’re better equipped to teach the students. I’m just trying to embrace this as a learning opportunity and take whatever comes.”


Because she intends to seek a full-time teaching job next year, she talked about the coronavirus, teaching, and voting on condition that her identity not be disclosed.


She did work with children in person over the summer, at a camp. Masks were required, and the schedule was switched from an overnight to a day camp. Despite these precautions, some campers opted out of attending for a variety of reasons. In addition, some kids struggled with being forced to wear a mask.


“We had a few campers who were just getting very frustrated with being forced to wear a mask,” she says. “Which I understand, and towards the latter-half of the summer, all of the campers 10-years and older were also required to wear a mask. And there were some people coming in who just got very frustrated, and saying that their parents told them that it wasn’t real.”


She followed the instructions of her supervisor, which were to work to align the campers with the beliefs at the camp.


“Oftentimes, if they were not willing to wear their mask, we would just say ‘I understand, that’s what you believe, however for the greater good...’ Or, ‘this is just something you do at camp.’”


Another tactic they used was to say, “Camp is about making everyone feel comfortable, therefore if you're going to be in this place, you're going to have to wear a mask.”


When it comes to deciding who to vote for during a pandemic, she wants to know not only what the candidates plan on doing, but what they are currently doing.


“I think it’s not only important to know what your goals or plans are, but what are you doing right now to make this happen, because if you're not putting in steps to achieve these goals, it’s not going to get done.”


Want to volunteer for a future dialogue and receive $125 for two hours? Register at the Your Voice Ohio Election 2020 website.

About this project: This is one in a series of stories on issues Ohioans say are most important in this election year. More than 50 news outlets are collaborating in the project under the umbrella of
Your Voice Ohio, a statewide news media collaborative. In five years, Your Voice Ohio has brought more than 100 journalists together with more than 1,300 Ohioans for discussions on addiction, the economy, and elections. The project is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund and Facebook. The Jefferson Center for New Democratic Processes designs and facilitates the dialogues. Retired Akron Beacon Journal managing editor Doug Oplinger directs the media work and can be reached at [email protected]


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