I’ve been a teacher for 14 years. This year, as I prepped for my 6th-grade science class, I also started to get my affairs in order.
I am type 2 diabetic and my wife, who is also a teacher, is a breast cancer survivor, which puts us at higher risk from COVID-19. I don't understand why Governor Ron DeSantis is forcing us to return to the classroom when our government is still remote. Why are teachers being asked to risk our lives, especially when a majority of parents agree it’s not safe?
I started teaching late in life, but it is the most important job I have ever had. I’m also a veteran. As a former US Army Paratrooper, I served proudly with the 82nd Airborne Division and then with the Florida National Guard. My time serving our country instilled core values which influence how I engage with my students.
Like most teachers, I don't think twice about digging into my own pocket to pay for school supplies — in my case to buy materials for my students’ science experiments. And like a lot of teachers, I end up working in the classroom long after the school day has ended. My wife and I eat dinner together grading papers, and we spend over $2,000 a year in supplies for our students. We do it because of the continued cuts in public school funding made by Tallahassee. We do it because we want to run an effective classroom. That comes with the territory, teaching in a Florida public school.
But we never asked to risk our lives.
As our country struggles to get the upper hand over this virus, Governor DeSantis is not even pretending to protect teachers and students. He is willing to force us to go back to school and to put everyone at risk. But here’s a news flash––I can't teach students if I am hooked up to a ventilator.
DeSantis has asked Floridians to practice the so-called 3Cs: don't go in crowded spaces, closed spaces, or close-contact settings. Does our governor not know he is describing a classroom?
Jackson County is in a rural area, and our school bus route can take more than an hour for some kids -- more than enough time for students to become infected. We have not been given the resources and appropriate funding to follow the DeSantis' 3Cs effectively.
As schools and universities reopen around the country, cases are spiking. The University of Alabama reported over 500 new cases within days of reopening. I am very concerned that that could happen to our school and that members of our community could die.
We know that Florida has been a hot spot for coronavirus and that we have a government that completely disregards science. But science does not care about your political leanings. The government is failing to take the needed measures to mitigate the pandemic, and teachers are on the short end.
Teacher, Jackson County teachers' union president
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