My name is Gabriel B. and I live in the Cayman Islands. For the 2019/2020 period (August to June), I worked as a teacher for eight fourth graders. The system the school used was one where the supervisor did not directly teach the students but rather had them complete workbooks, checked their daily work, and clarified anything the students did not understand.

Once the pandemic hit the Cayman Islands, in late March of 2020, a stay-at-home government mandate required the students to complete their workbooks from home and submit them by sending in pictures of their completed work. Whenever the students had any queries, they would call me, or the other supervisors for further clarifications. This mode of teaching was very challenging to me because none of us were prepared for the pandemic and the changes it brought with it. The students had a set number of pages they had to complete each day, whereby they would take pictures of their completed work and send them to me. At times, I would receive 50 pictures (some were of poor quality) and I was required to provide feedback for all of them the same day because I would always receive more pictures the following day. To add to that, my working hours became very inconsistent. My sleeping patterns and body clock slowly deteriorated because some of the parents would send in their children’s pictures late at night after their work shifts. This required me to stay up late to ensure that I was able to receive and provide feedback for each submission.

Assessing my students’ work and providing feedback through the cameras was way more difficult than assessing their books in person. This meant that I would take more time teaching online than I would in class (sometimes lasting over an hour), and I would fall behind on checking the pages sent to me for the day, further affecting the time I would finish my work. Going to sleep late and checking my phone every morning to see if there were more pictures I had to provide feedback on became rather stressful.

During normal working hours in school, as soon as I went home, my day was done and I did not have to worry about work for the rest of the day. During the pandemic, however, it felt like I was working the entire day and I was left feeling overwhelmed rather quickly.

All in all, I am not complaining about how everyone (e.g., parents, government, etc.) handled the situation, given how sudden the pandemic arrived. However, I believe that the students would have worked more efficiently and learned more had they been doing their work at school.