It hit me the other day just how little regard our society has for teachers. Here we are in the midst of a pandemic and our political leaders are forcing everyone to go back to school. “Kid’s don’t get it [COVID-19],” “They don’t die from it,” and “All the other countries are doing it!” [insert tired child whining at the store here.] Oh, good. The children don’t get it. … But their families do and their teachers do. You know, the people that do die from it.
I find myself with two options at this point: go into the classrooms with the rest of the teachers or sit out the fall and be forced into the classroom in January, my last chance to complete the student teaching aspect of my career change. You know, January, when people will be sick with the flu and all sorts of viruses in addition to COVID-19? So off I go to war. My armor of choice is a bottle of hand sanitizer, an OCD fear of being touched by children, and a few home-made masks, which I prefer to the commercial ones. The decision to go into the classrooms in a few weeks’ time was accompanied by a long talk with my husband regarding what he would do if I died first. I am now sitting here seriously contemplating a six-month life insurance policy that would see him through for a bit if I did get COVID-19 and succumb to it.
I want to be a teacher and I don’t really mind the disrespect and dismissiveness shown by politicians. I have no respect for them either as they’ve never given a flying you-know-what about me. Yet, I am terrified of this disease. As I write this, over 150,000 Americans have died from it. One could argue that a good number of those deaths were preventable if people had just isolated, hunkered down, and worn face masks. Instead, we are all being forced to crowd together in unventilated work spaces for hours on end. As a concession, the glorious politicians deciding my fate have allowed us to close schools on Fridays, and they’ve graciously given every student and teacher a pair of face masks (which they are mandated to wear). Additionally, they’ve delayed the start of school for one week. [Insert much rolling of eyes.]
I’ve followed all the additional guidance from the union for people with underlying health conditions and I’m working with the ADA and student support services in the hopes that I can get preferential treatment if they need a distance learning teacher. I work so much online that I could easily pivot to teaching online. In fact, it would be a dream job! Of course, I’m only one of hundreds, if not thousands, trying to follow the same course. Only time will tell. In the end, I’m at the mercy of my host teachers’ decisions. If they teach online, I will teach online. Of course, I also thoroughly believe that opening up the schools is going to cause a rise in cases, and we’ll all be back to distance learning by November anyway.
Go on 2020 prove me wrong!
Are there any glimmers of hope? Well, of course. I’m not 100% pessimist. Our case numbers are trending down here… I mean, there are still close to 400 new cases a day, daily deaths attributed to COVID-19 are roughly 10 or fewer a day. As I write this, our hospital beds and ICU availability is at 60% or so. My underlying health condition is on the secondary These MAY cause complications that land you in the hospital list instead of the These DEFINITELY will cause you to be hospitalized and probably die list. Finally, there was that coughing, I don’t feel well period in March when no one was being tested but I had recently returned from England. I’d try for an antigen test, but they’re reported to be only about 50% accurate. I can assume that much error without spending any money at all.