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Some Teachers Are So Terrified of Schools Reopening, They're Preparing Wills

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Imagine a world in which you are asked to completely change the way you do your job. No notice to make a plan, just make it happen. This is the very thing teachers all over the country were prompted to do in March. Now, some teachers are being told to go back to school while cases all around the U.S. are on the rise. As a response to this uncertainty, many teachers are preparing wills before returning to their jobs. You can read about it here and here.

Some people may ask things like, “What are they afraid of?” or say things like, “Kids don’t get it or die from it so you have nothing to worry about.” Well, from a teacher’s perspective, I would like to share with you what we are worried about.

Kids might not be getting COVID-19 or dying from it as much as adults, but they are getting it. While some schools have made the decision to continue online education, some are not making many accommodations. Sanitization efforts are the pillar our schools are standing on this upcoming year. If teachers are doing the sanitizing, why, in my district at least, has there not been talk of hazard pay? Especially since our risk of getting COVID has exponentially increased by doing face-to-face instruction. The major fear here is this: How many teacher and student deaths will it take to realize the grave mistake we are making? If students cannot return to school without vaccinations for preventable diseases, then why are we opening school during a pandemic for which there is no cure?

I also can’t help but wonder if we are forgetting that these educators have families of their own. Teachers and staff members of schools are adults who will be at risk by being near each other. Social distancing in schools not only isn’t happening in most places, it’s impossible as resources are slim and budgets have been cut. By asking educators to return to face-to-face instruction, we are asking them to risk their lives and the lives of their loved ones. I know many teachers and staff members who are high risk themselves, but I also know some who have family members who are high risk. These may be children, spouses, parents or grandparents. Some educators don’t have the options to just “stay away” from them, they may live with the high-risk person or be a caregiver.

There have been many unanswered questions all over the country about returning to school. One of the most popular has been why teachers did not get a choice in how we returned to school. In my district, questionnaires were sent out to families, but not educators. If it is safe to go back to school, why are all the meetings regarding going back happening virtually? Kids come to school sick quite often because “parents have to work,” how are we monitoring this? Those are just a few questions we have, but perhaps the most important remains to be answered. Should teachers contract COVID-19 will we be taken care of? By that I mean, will we continue to be paid while we quarantine and in some cases fight for our lives? Or will we have to take an unpaid leave of absence and potentially lose our homes?

We risk our lives for your children, and we’re speaking up and writing wills not because we’re trying to be difficult, but because we are scared. Please consider fighting for our rights in return.

The reason these choices seem so impossible for us is simple. We love our families and value our lives, but we also love your children. We laugh and cry with them, teach them new things and watch them grow. I never refer to my students as “my students” — they are “my kids.” I love them fiercely and spend countless hours planning and thinking about ways to help them succeed. I spend more time caring for and loving your children than I do with my own family. So I implore you, when you think about your child and their education, think about their teachers. Think about what and who you are risking.

You can find more story about schools and COVID-19 below:

Getty image via Tero Vesalainen

Originally published: July 21, 2020
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