What message are we sending the education community when we force them to risk their lives?

By Whitney Reddick and Alycia Campbell

When contemplating the return to school I have no doubt that the discussion is difficult and pacifying all parties is going to be a tough feat. However, starting school in a face to face setting is a dangerous outset. The cost both monetary and to safely do so is not a track I am willing to place our students, my peers, or myself on as a stakeholder.Also, what message are we conveying to our educational community about how much we care? Not just teachers but all those who serve to teach our children daily from janitorial staff to administration? In all honesty, none. We are telling them that they are expendable. That we want to place them on the front lines to contract the illness and help create herd immunity.

Essentially, we are telling them they do not matter. Why would we risk one of the most valuable resources our community has? These are teachers who, no doubt, want to be back in the classroom yet we are taking away their ability to effectively teach by restricting movement, materials (no sharing), true social interactions, and bonding. A great teacher can bond with students, no matter the setting.

Below is a run-through of some of the questions that are keeping my husband and me up talking (and crying) at night:

  • When one of us contracts COVID, how do we isolate with our son and elderly father in the house to try to protect them?
  • What if we both go down at the same time?
  • If one of us goes into the ICU, who helps with my family members who can’t care for themselves? What if we both get hospitalized?
  • What does life on welfare look like for us if we are forced with the decision to sign a liability waiver or quit?
  • How long can we go without pay when we inevitably run out of sick days? (Hint-0 days)
  • We need to make a will.
  • What happens if one of us dies?

That was our very real conversation last night that left my head spinning. I hope it left you feeling as unnerved as it left me.

It’s not hyperbolic. I’m not being an extremist. Jacksonville’s positivity rate yesterday was 20.9%, and we had 600 new cases. We are a hotspot in the US, which also means a global hotspot.

It is safe to assume that within the first week we will come in contact with this highly contagious and deadly virus. The viral load will get to be so high that we will get sick.I know you want schools to open. We do too, but not face to face until we have two weeks of no new cases.

Teachers should not be punished with facing the brunt of this virus, unprepared and underfunded, because the leaders at the top have failed to contain it.

If you wish to support your local teachers, hear our cry loud and clear. Listen to our questions. Do not push our concerns aside.

We matter, children matter, my peers matter, my family matters, I MATTER.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to understand my concerns,

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