The teacher anxiety is real. This week, it finally got to me. I have been sucking it up to, “mask up and go in”, as we are told to do. I travel to different schools, and see about ten kids in person a week. The rest of my students are remote. Of the ten in person, only two wear a mask. I try to always wear one in schools, unless I am alone in a big room.
To start my week, I was asked to stop communicating with a worried parent. The parent had been threatened by the school system, with threat of court, fines, and DCS intervention. Without going into detail, I felt very strongly about this, and with the way our county has handled the opening of our schools. I needed to just keep my fingers silent.
This week, it got to me. I was in a hallway at a middle school at the time the students were going to their first class. The hall completely flooded with hundreds of unmasked teens! I couldn’t hardly believe it! I could barely catch my breath.
The next day, before I even got out of bed, I got a notice from a coworker. She was home with Covid-19. This coworker does not see many kids, and is in multiple schools (like me). That hit me hard, and I had what I can only think was a panic attack. I called in and didn’t go to work. I did not feel better the next day, but I sucked it up and went in. I let my boss know, because I had to check a box on the daily covid screening. I never heard back from my boss, so I just kept going. I called my doctor, only to learn that no one was available to see me for the remainder of the week.
The next day, I arrived at work to learn that one of my dearest work friends had been in an accident, and was being taken to the hospital. Thankfully, she was checked out and sent home…her car was a complete loss. Our lives can change in a matter of seconds!
With stress coming over my entire body, I reached out to my old doctor’s office, and pretty much begged to be fit in somewhere. I was able to get in, and had a heart event ruled out. I had my anxiety regimen adjusted, and now I just wait for relief.
I have talked with coworkers, and I know I am not alone in my increasing anxiety. Teachers are breaking under the weight they are carrying. They are meeting together to vent and cry. Our county and school board has not protected teachers or students in a proactive manner. They are completely reactive, closing classes, grade levels, and schools; as teachers and students test positive.
There is nothing any of us can do. We are public servants….we have no voice. We watch silently, hoping that we don’t lose a coworker, a family member, or a student. We watch as students do all the things that the cdc warns us against doing. They are not physically distanced, there are no masks, and they are crowded together in large groups. They are children. It wasn’t time to let our guards down. It was the jobs of our county government and school board to keep us all safe. I feel like their actions clearly communicate that school employees and students are not worth keeping safe. There had to be a better and safer way to meet the needs of the children in our county.