Educators can deduct COVID protective equipment from taxes

Teachers who purchased COVID-19 protective equipment last year can write them off on their 2020 taxes, the IRS announced.

Educators who have purchased protective items for COVID-19 and have not been reimbursed can write them off on their taxes, the Internal Revenue Service announced Thursday. Any expenses for protective items purchased after March 12, 2020 can be included with a limit of up to $250 per person.

“Eligible educators include any individual who is a kindergarten through grade 12 teacher, instructor, counselor, principal, or aide in a school for at least 900 hours during a school year,” the IRS said. The statement doesn’t make it clear how this will affect many teachers who were forced to work remotely from home due to state and local coronavirus guidelines.

The following is the list of eligible items from the IRS:

  • face masks
  • disinfectant for use against COVID-19
  • hand soap
  • hand sanitizer
  • disposable gloves
  • tape, paint or chalk to guide social distancing
  • physical barriers (for example, clear plexiglass)
  • air purifiers
  • other items recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be used for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19

The $250 limit goes up to $500 if filing taxes jointly, but with no more than $250 per individual.

More information is available on the IRS website.

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For and against about wearing face masks in the classroom

Hundreds of people have had their say on whether pupils have to wear face masks face in the clasroom.

Here is a selection of the comments posted.

  1. It’s a world-wide very contagious pandemic it’s not whether people like it or not, masks are to protect us all.
  2. This ridiculous decision imposes a real problem between pupils and teachers. Facial expressions form a large part of communication, essential in a classroom.
  3. Schools cannot win. When schools were reopening for a bigger cohort everyone shouted its not safe without masks, they are risking my child’s health. Now a school is saying masks should be worn, people are shouting its unfair and not safe to wear a mask.
  4. Kids will not be able to concentrate. It’s funny how adamant parents and teachers are about it when they were happy to overcrowd the beaches with kids all summer without social distancing.
  5. Not in the classroom. How are the teachers going to teach if they can’t see or hear what the child is saying especially as they don’t have to wear one I believe.
  6. Precautions are better than doing nothing. I am fed up with people moaning about having to do this. Yes it’s uncomfortable and alien having to do this. It could be a lot worse. This virus is serious. Get on with taking responsibility for yourself and others.
  7. I’m not sure I understand the full reasons for this, sorry if I upset anyone but if you can go to a gym and puff and pant really hard without wearing a mask during your exercise time how does sitting at a desk with minimum movement require it?
  8. I am so relieved about this. My daughter and I both feel safer and reassured that the school are doing everything they can to protect us.
  9. People would be moaning if schools didn’t have safety measures in place.
  10. I think it should be choice. In the classroom as some are very anxious wearing them. My daughters school have said they are not permitted in class but are choice at free times. Give these poor teenagers a choice.
  11. I am so upset by this decision. My son now no longer wants to attend school. It was going to be horrendous trying to get the kids back to a normal routine and now he doesn’t want to go. I don’t blame him. I work all day with a mask and a visor and it’s really hard.
  12. I am so pleased they are going to wear masks. Great news. Hopefully it will encourage more schools to do the same and eventually my daughters school will do so.
  13. Corridor and shared areas yes, but classroom no. Absolutely not necessary. Sat at a desk not moving, just will cause anxiety and discomfort for no reason.

Tips for Achieving and Maintaining Discipline

Discipline is not about getting kids to do what you want them to do. That’s what dictators do, and you’re not a dictator—you’re an educator. Discipline is providing an environment in which positive teaching and positive learning can occur simultaneously. Discipline is not control from the outside; it’s order from within.

Some practical and universal ideas that will help you achieve discipline in your classroom.

  • Greet students at the door. Interact with your students on a personal level every day. Greet them by name, interject a positive comment or observation, shake their hand, and welcome them into the classroom. This sets a positive tone for a lesson or for the day.
  • Get students focused before you begin any lesson. Be sure you have their attention before you begin. Don’t try to talk over students; you’ll be initiating a competition to see who can speak louder and also let them know it’s okay to talk while you are talking.
  • Use positive presence. Don’t park yourself in the front of the classroom. Move around the room continuously, and get in and around your students. Make frequent eye contact, and smile with students. Monitor students with your physical presence.
  • Model the behavior you want students to produce. If you exhibit respectfulness, trust, enthusiasm, interest, and courtesy in your everyday dealings with students, they will return the favor in kind. Remember the saying, “Values are caught, not taught.”
  • Use low-profile intervention. When you see a student who is misbehaving, be sure your intervention is quiet, calm, and inconspicuous. Use the student’s name in part of your presentation, for example, “As an example, let’s measure Michael’s height in centimeters.” Michael, who has been whispering to his neighbor, hears his name and is drawn back into the lesson with no disruption of the class.
  • Verbal reprimands should be private, brief, and as immediate as possible. The more private a reprimand, the less likely you will be challenged. The more immediate the reprimand, the less likely the student will feel you condone her or his behavior. And keep reprimands brief. The more you talk, the more you distract from the lesson and the more you “reward” a student for inappropriate behavior.
  • Provide lots of positive feedback. Many veteran teachers will tell you, “10 percent of the students will give you 90 percent of your headaches!” But what about the 90 percent of those other students in your classroom? Don’t forget them; recognize their contributions and behavior:
  • Acknowledge positive student behavior when it is not expected.
  • Acknowledge positive student behavior when it is not expected.
  • Acknowledge positive student behavior when it is not expected.
  • Acknowledge positive student behavior when it is not expected.
  • Acknowledge positive student behavior when it is not expected.
  • Acknowledge positive student behavior when it is not expected.
  • Acknowledge positive student behavior when it is not expected.

 Watch out for these mistakes regarding an appropriate discipline policy.

  • Teach students to listen. We sometimes make the mistake of repeating the same instructions several times. When we do that, we teach students not to listen. Give a request only twice, and let students know that after two times they will be on their own.
  • Don’t be their friend. It’s your nature to be caring, considerate, outgoing, and sensitive. After all, you’re a teacher! But when you become your students’ friend, you lose their respect. Yes, it’s important that you be a role model and someone they can look up to and trust. It’s important that you care about them. But don’t ever try to be their friend.
  • Keep your administrator informed. As you craft your classroom discipline policy, be sure you run it by your principal first. Get her or him involved, and let that individual know what your rules are, how you plan to enforce them, and how your classroom rules are in line with any rules and regulations of the school.
  • Keep parents informed, too. Good classroom discipline does not exist in isolation from the discipline practiced at home or in the local community. Inform parents of your expectations for students though newsletters, phone calls, parent-teacher conferences, or other means of communication. When parents know what you expect, they will be more supportive of your actions.
  • Watch out for an excess of negative comments. Frame your comments, suggestions, and behavior modification in positive terms, such as, “Let’s walk silently down the right side of the hallway,” or “I really like when you come into the room ready to work.”
  • Teach your students proper discipline. During the first week of school, establish a set of expectations, the specific details of those expectations, and the consequences if those expectations are not followed. Nothing is more important than a well-crafted and well-articulated discipline policy. If it’s true that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” the time you take at the start of the school year will pay enormous dividends throughout the rest of the school year.

Discipline in the Classroom – How to keep order

Sometimes being a teacher is far too stressful. Mounting workloads, lack of resources and even staff shortages cause all manner of issues within a school, but the biggest disruption is one that has always existed – keeping control of the classroom. The best laid plans can go awry when one student decides that today is the day they’re going to impress everyone by refusing to behave. Well, don’t lose your head – here’s a few tips for keeping control of the classroom.

  • Make the rules clear

The rules in your classroom will define the way it runs. The advice often given is to have 5 very clear, very firm rules. You need to make them short and easy to remember, and you need to teach them in a positive light. Remind students that behaving isn’t just going to avoid reprimanding, but can also lead to rewards. It’s also a good idea to get students to agree to the rules, through show of hands or even a written agreement. But don’t forget that you too will have to obey them. It has to be a fair system, one rule for them is just as much a rule for you.

  • Innocent before proven guilty

Sometimes misbehaviour is simply a misunderstanding of the boundaries. If someone is acting up, let them know why it’s not acceptable and explain what the rules are. Don’t let the student feel like a victim of ignorance – first offenses can slip, but repeat behaviour requires a firmer hand. Lay down the law and you’ll find that most, if not all students will be more than happy to obey. The point is to not assume malice – when you have someone actually causing active disruption you need to have no ambiguity that that’s what’s going on.

  • Be fair, but be authoritative

Is it better to be loved, or feared? Machiavelli is said to have fallen on the side of feared, but in truth he agreed the ideal was both. When disciplining students it’s always best to deal with the student in a way that they will be able to understand and accept, but if you need to put your foot down make sure not to hold back on the agreed consequences of breaking the rules. Authority is derived from respect, and to earn respect you must be consistent, both in mercy and in justice.

  • Don’t Argue

Arguing is a guaranteed root to misery, it inflames a pupil’s need to “win” and will lead to further disruption. Instead make sure you discipline students separately, as this gets them in an environment where they don’t have to defend their ego. Tell them they’ve broken the rules and then instigate punishment, don’t instigate a shouting match. Do hear your students out, let them make their case, but only once. Think of it as a 3 stage conversation.

Stage 1

Explain what rule they have broken.

Stage 2

Allow them to respond

Stage 3

If their input doesn’t change your mind enforce the punishment.

Don’t mistake not arguing for not listening – often the scuffles in the playground are rarely one student acting up, so make sure that all those involved are dealt with appropriately, and don’t punish the innocent, as nothing will erode your authority faster than being unfair.

  • Make sure cover teachers know the rules

As we’ve established, consistency is everything, so even when you aren’t in you’ve got to keep your classroom in order. Create a printed pack for substitute teachers explaining what the rules are and the expectation of the pupils. It might even be a good idea to have the substitute teacher explain to pupils that they’re aware of the rules and that they too agree with them. If you’ve done your job well, kids will respect the authority you laid down for the rules, even when you aren’t there.

  • Every day is a fresh start

Don’t hold grudges – there’s no such thing as a “troublemaker”. Once a student has served the consequence of their misbehavior they should be treated like all the others regardless of past behavior. If you help cultivate the reputation of a troublemaker it’ll become a self fulfilling prophecy, so try to encourage pupils to refresh their attitudes.

Keeping control of the classroom is tricky, but create a proper culture of discipline and you’ll soon see the need to monitor behavior fade into the background of everyday teaching. It’s worth bearing in mind that although discipline is worth maintaining, rewards are what backup good behavior.

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