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COMIC: Teaching Preschoolers While Masked Up During The Pandemic

"... and since we have to wear masks, that's just not happening for them."

It's been a year since teachers were handed an unprecedented request: educate students in entirely new ways amid the backdrop of a pandemic. In this comic series, we'll illustrate one teacher's story each week from now until the end of the school year.

Maria Lemire, a preschool teacher in the East Village, New York City, on the challenges of early childhood education during the pandemic.

Episode 3

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

"It's been really difficult. There's been so much loss. My grandmother passed away a week into lockdown and I couldn't go see her. We all carry this weight."
"I'm still concerned about my safety, but I am really worried about having to wear a mask at school every day."
"See, I teach 2- and 3-year-olds, so oral language development is critical. Not only hearing the words, but seeing the words being made by the mouth ..."
"It's up to us as teachers to really e-nun-ci-ate and talk about what's going on under our mask. To show with our hands what our mouth is doing during a certain vowel or letter."
"And a huge part of this developmental stage is social-emotional learning — being able to read faces, express emotions and pay attention to other faces."
"We started using a mood meter so kids can look at their face in the mirror. They can think about which feeling resonates with them the most right now."
"Social distancing doesn't really happen at this age. They naturally want to share. We talk about our bodies sharing space."
They all get their own supplies, but some things are more communal — like books. We're trying not to say, "No sharing," but trying to let them know the spaces where they can.
"My students are resilient and they have adapted. When the days are tough, my students inspire me to keep showing up."