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Coronavirus fears are real for teachers, others

I recently asked a friend if she’d learned anything interesting during the pandemic.

To the sound of my breaking heart, she responded: “That our country as a whole doesn’t care if we live or die. I’m a pre-school educator and school starts in a couple of weeks. I am absolutely terrified to return. I thought I would be excited, but I’m terrified of getting this virus from the selfish adults around me. I wear a mask and wash my hands constantly, but if other people don’t do the same thing I’m not protected.”

I suggested she share her very real distress in a letter to local newspapers but, on top of the risk of catching this novel coronavirus, she fears losing her job.

She added: “Please don’t think I don’t want to work at school, because I do, but at this point I feel working at school is not safe for me, my students or my colleagues.”

Beyond her own safety, this young teacher fears for her mother, who lives close-by and is battling serious underlying health issues. Of this she says: “When I think about bringing the virus to her, it freaks me out. I am also high risk myself. I wear a mask and have since the beginning, but other people not wearing a mask around me puts me and, through me, my mother at serious risk.”

Her pain and angst were so real, and her poignant helplessness, I offered to send the letter on her behalf. This is it.

Whatever we might believe about this still unfolding disease, however we feel politically, how can any of us not have compassion and concern for the well-being of the people who take our children from the earliest ages to near adulthood and school them through their young lives?

Whatever decisions are made, however policies are applied, there should be no minimizing of the possible consequences, no disregard of the outright terror that some people feel, not just for themselves but for their loved ones and community, just to show up for work each day.

Robin Waters

Basalt


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