Pregnant teacher on bedrest instructs students from Calif. hospital room

Published: Aug. 30, 2020 at 3:10 AM CDT
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LANCASTER, Calif. (KCBS/KCAL) - A long hospitalization is not preventing a California teacher from holding her classes. She figured out how to do her job from her hospital room.

Some of the first things Janet Udomratsak’s students see when they join the class every day through Zoom are a welcome sign, calendar and white board, but what they don’t see, just steps away, is a hospital bed.

Udomratsak, known to her students as Mrs. O, teaches third grade at Tierra Bonita Elementary School in Lancaster, California. This is her 11th year of teaching. She was hospitalized seven weeks ago due to pregnancy complications.

“Honestly, being in the hospital to me, in this setting, almost feels no different than if I were at home. The only difference is that yes, I am in the hospital,” Udomratsak said. “In the beginning of the school year, that’s when you build your relationship with your students, and I didn’t want to miss that opportunity.”

With months to go on bedrest until her second child is due, Udomratsak decided to take on the challenge of remote teaching.

“My love of teaching, for the kids and building that relationship is so much stronger than me just wanting to sit and do nothing. Obviously, that would be the life: to just take it all in and relax and not have to work. I would love doing that, but my desire is to be with the students,” she said.

With support from her family, doctors and the Eastside Union School District, Udomratsak was given the green light to open up her hospital room and make it a classroom.

“I just review all of her monitoring on the computer, and then, I come in and talk to her once a day or whoever the rounding doctor is. We all kind of know that she’s teaching and doing her thing, and we try to stay out of her way, except for when we have to come in and do the monitoring we need to do,” said Kathryn Wright, Udomratsak’s doctor.

Udomratsak’s job is to teach, but in the middle of an unprecedented time in history, it’s also to educate students and let them know they’re not alone.

“It’s something that is new for all of us, and I want to show them that I am there with them. The struggle is real for me as a teacher, it’s real for them as the students and really, that we are all in it together,” she said.

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