Sam Ryan, 29

Around the world, schools have shut down and teachers are having to adapt to a new normal as a result of the novel coronavirus. One of those teachers is Sam Ryan.

A full-time sixth and seventh grade teacher at Clearview Primary School, in Christchurch, New Zealand, Ryan, 29, has been transitioning to online teaching. Luckily for her, it wasn’t too much of a shift for her students.

“We are lucky that our school program in years seven and eight [grades six and seven] is already heavy in digital use and our students know how to operate our Google Drive system to access all of their work, email and communicate when they need support,” she said. 

On March 26, New Zealand was one of the first countries to go into lockdown, with only essential services such as grocery stores and pharmacies remaining open. This strict shutdown means a lot more time at home for many. But Ryan, who is a team leader of seven teachers and 185 students, hasn’t been able to slow down. 

“The second I arrive at work, to when I turn off the light at home at night, I am often working like a crazy person. Being able to work from home has its challenges but also a sense of flexibility for me,” she said.

As the number of new cases in New Zealand has started to drop and talk of loosening lockdown restrictions has begun, Ryan can’t help but fear for the future.

“I guess the daunting aspect for me is the future of our New Zealand economy and global economy and the impact on other’s well-being, financial situations/job security, etc. Hard to think we won’t go back to “normal” for a long time,” she said.

Still, she is finding the positives in a tough situation.

“Family and friends making the most of this uncertain time, enjoying the present and not trying to think too far ahead gives me hope,” said Ryan. 

Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, Imogen Francis now studies journalism at Florida International University. She was a staff news writer at the student newspaper PantherNow and has experience writing about the LGBTQ community, women's rights and politics.