COVID-19 has affected everyone differently. For some, it means staying at home for school, or not being able to go to work. For others, it means having to give up doing something that they love.
For Kevin Fober, a former teacher at Park City High School, it meant resigning from his passion for teaching after 35 years in the profession.
“I was completely heartbroken. I shed a lot of tears; for multiple reasons, but ultimately I was walking away from something that I have loved for a long time,” Fober said.
After teaching for the majority of his career in Missouri, Fober taught at Park City High School for the past six years. In addition to teaching U.S. Government, he was the school’s only AP U.S. History teacher, with approximately 160 students.
Fober had two main reasons for his resignation, the first being safety, a concern shared by many in classrooms right now.
Although the school district has done many things to bring back students in the safest way possible, Fober still didn’t feel safe since he is in the elevated risk category due to his age.
One of the most reliable ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is social distancing, which, for a class of 30 students, just isn’t possible.
Over the summer, Fober experienced teaching in a socially distanced classroom with the Dream Big Program. It was a class of 8 students, and even though the students were spaced out and wearing masks, he still wasn’t comfortable.
Fober clarified that he doesn’t, “Want to lay blame, certainly not on (Principal Roger) Arbabi and the leadership; they did everything they could do.”
The second reason leading to Fober’s decision was the impact the coronavirus would have had on his teaching style, which involves a lot of small group activities, partner projects, and group discussions.
Fobers classroom consists of 4 rows, with approximately 30 desks. They are spaced out as far as possible, which makes this harder for collaboration. With these new measures in place, his teaching style just wouldn’t have worked.
In Fober’s mind, everything that he had loved about teaching had been taken away. He didn’t think he was going to enjoy teaching this way because he never wanted to make it feel like a job.
“It was never a job for me; it was a joy,” he said.
One of the biggest burdens challenging teachers this year is managing both the ‘in-class’ and the “remote learners” at the same time. While the number of students opting to do remote learning is changing every day, having to teach two classes at the same time doubles the preparation time for teachers.
Fober said he felt that “I was gonna hate this, and I don’t want to live that way.”
While students were given the option to go remote, most of the teachers who applied to teach remotely were denied the option, including Chemistry teacher Zachary Niemeyer.
The district asked teachers to submit an application self-identifying as a high risk to possibly qualify for remote learning, but most PCHS applicants were denied.
“For me, I self-identified as a high-risk, and then was basically told ‘OK work with your administrator as best as you can to create a safe environment’,” said Niemeyer.
More students in the lower grades signed up for remote learning, therefore making it easier for teachers to teach online. Although at the high school, they couldn’t accommodate for remote learning as a teacher because too many students were in-person.
In Fober’s words, “There was no choice.”
Although not given the option, some teachers still requested online learning for themselves, including Fober. But he informally requested it; meaning he didn’t go through the official paperwork.
Fober’s absence creates a big problem for his AP and Concurrent Enrollment students. His replacement must be certified to teach AP and Concurrent Enrollment. Without it, students in government will not be able to earn Concurrent Enrollment credit.
“I knew that on one hand the kids that signed up for AP, that was going to be a problem along with the kids who signed up for Concurrent Enrollment. I felt awful leaving them,” he said.
Although Mr. Fober will be missed greatly by his students and colleagues, he felt obligated to think about his family and everyone’s safety first.
“I miss being there so much. I miss my colleagues and my students. That’s what, again, contributes to having something torn away from me that I love,” he said.