Everyday people catch Covid-19 at my school.
Sometimes you can only tell by the vanishing students and teachers or the everyday need to sub for staff members mysteriously absent for days or weeks in a row.
Sometimes a student will stop by the room to tell you she’s leaving and will be quarantined for the next five days.
Sometimes a fellow teacher will cough and sneeze their way through hall duty and then disappear for the next week or so.
But always, ALWAYS the emails and phone calls:
“We have learned that two High School students, two High School staff members, three Middle School students, six Elementary students and one Elementary staff member have tested positive for COVID-19. Close contacts have been identified and notified. Thank you.”
What does it all mean?
One thing’s for sure – we aren’t taking this pandemic very seriously.
No mask mandate. No vaccine mandate. No random testing to see if anyone even has the disease.
Now it’s a constant game of chicken between you and a global pandemic.
Will you beat the odds today?
Given enough time and high infection rates, you probably won’t. And no one seems too worried about that.
We’re acting like this virus is just a cold. People get sick. They convalesce at home. They come back. No problem.
But that is just ableism.
The consequences of getting sick vary from person-to-person. Some people have symptoms that last for months. Others have permanent damage to their hearts, lungs or other organs.
And someone like me who is triple vaccinated but immunosuppressed because of existing medical conditions could have severe complications.
That’s why I’m afraid. I don’t know if getting sick will mean the sniffles, a stay at the hospital or the morgue.
And no one seems to care.
In fact, nothing seems to make anyone do a thing about the dangerous conditions in which we’re working.
Judging by the emails in the last week and a half, alone, there have been at least 60 people in my small western Pennsylvania district who tested positive for Covid. That’s 17 in the high school (10 students and 7 staff), 22 in the middle school (17 students and 5 staff), and 21 in the elementary schools (16 students and 5 staff). And this doesn’t include close contacts.
However, with the new CDC guidelines that people who test positive only need to quarantine for 5 days, some of these people are probably back at school already. Though it is almost certain they will be replaced by more people testing positive today.
I have a student who just came back a day ago who’s coughing and sneezing in the back of the room with no mask. And there’s not a thing I can do – except spray Lysol all over his seating area once he leaves.
The imperative seems to be to keep the building open at all costs. It doesn’t matter who gets sick, how many get sick – as long as we have one or two adults we can shuffle from room-to-room, the lights will be on and school directors can hold their heads high that they weren’t defeated by Covid.
The daycare center – I mean school – is open and parents can get to work.
But this isn’t the number one concern of all parents. Many are keeping their kids at home because they don’t want them to get sick.
We have a Catholic school right next door. It’s closed and classes have moved on-line.
Don’t get me wrong. I hated teaching remotely on and off during the last few years. But safety is more important to me than being as effective as I can possibly be.
When the Titanic is sinking, you get in the life boats and don’t worry that doing so might mean you won’t dock on time.
Somewhere along the line in the past few years we’ve come to accept the unacceptable:
–We’re not in this together.
–I don’t have your back. You don’t have mine.
–When it comes to a disease like Covid – you’re on your own.
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