Letter to the Editor 8/6/20

Should teachers, students be forced to risk lives to be back in classrooms?



I have been a Florida Educator for many, many years and I love my job. It’s a calling for me, and like most teachers I know, I put my whole heart and soul into my work. We work closely with our students and long ago accepted the fact that we will go home with whatever they bring to school- colds, flu, stomach bugs, and even lice. We have been - trained for emergencies - tornadoes, fires, school shooters – and I would like to believe that the teachers I’ve worked with would lay down their lives to protect their students in these situations. I know I would. Above ALL else, I have a duty to keep my charges safe from harm. I have a duty to them, and I have a duty to their parents. My integrity demands I fulfill this duty at all costs. However, no one trained me to protect my children from a widespread silent enemy, one that chooses to randomly kill some of those infected. No one asked me if I was willing to risk my life not only on an emergency basis but every single day of the year.

Before I became a teacher, I was in the military. I have served my country, in one form or another, for most of my life. As a soldier, I wrote a blank check to the United States of America for an amount up to, and including, my life. No one told me that as an educator, I would be asked to write that check again. I didn’t sign up for this. I didn’t sign up for a sworn duty I know ahead of time that I cannot fulfill. My government is asking me to lay it all on the line- my integrity, my family, my life. What is going to happen when my student or their parents ask me if it’s safe in the classroom? Is my government going to expect me to lie? I have no idea if it’s safe and if pushed I would have to say probably not. Just by being in the classroom I will be giving my tacit approval of this plan to not just incoming students, but all students and parents in the school that know and respect me. Every teacher that shows up is a signal to our community that we believe we can keep our children safe. We cannot. We can do our best, but in the end, it isn’t up to us. This virus is out of control. The risks are too great, I cannot look a parent in the eye and tell them their child will be okay. Our government shouldn’t ask us to.

(Name withheld)

Clay County educator


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