I am a nurse. Teachers should do their job like me.

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What I do not support is the preemptive threat of “security strikes”, as the American Federation of Teachers did in late July. These threats go against the fact that, by and large, school districts are already fine-tuning social distancing measures and enforcing the wearing of masks. Teachers are not asked to work without precautions, but some ignore it: The mask-wearing policy has become so ridiculous that many seem to believe that masks only protect other people or are largely symbolic. They are not. Nurses and doctors know that masks do a lot to protect us and that other basics like hand washing, keeping our faces clean, and social distancing are effective in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.Instead of using the summer to sharpen arguments against going back to school, administrators and teachers should think about how best to support children and their families during a time of turmoil. Schools are essential to the functioning of our society, which makes teachers essential workers. They should step up to the plate even if it makes them nervous, just like health workers.

My husband, playing devil’s advocate while we chatted about it (we both know how eager he is to get home), said: “You can argue that the health workers are kind of committed to this. kind of risk, but the teachers didn’t.

I replied: “Absolutely not! Doctors and nurses sign up for jobs that are sometimes very stressful for us and sometimes life or death for our patients, not us. Aside from those who choose to work in biocontainment or offer their services in war zones, we are do not should perform crucial medical work under potentially life-threatening circumstances.

I was terrified when I started caring for COVID-19 patients in the ICU. Before my first COVID-19 shift, I had panic attacks that made me whistle, and I walked into the unit on my first day in tears (so besides being terrified, I was also very embarrassed). My colleagues felt the same. I heard an attending physician say of his daughter, “What if she loses her mother?” and read a young nurse’s freshly written will, no kidding.

In those early days, I confessed my concerns to an acquaintance and he asked if I could take medical leave. I could have taken time off, and teachers in need can too. (And parents who want their kids to stay home have that option, whether it’s through home education or continued distance learning.) But I said, “No, I can’t just fall! Chump was not the right word – at the moment I was almost hysterical, and it was difficult for me to express how I felt called to do something scary and hard that I viscerally didn’t want to do .

The military language people used to discuss COVID-19 in the spring seemed quite appropriate, and in a way, that mentality got me over the edge: it was a war and I was a soldier. . It was not my choice to serve, but it was my duty; I had the skills and the knowledge.

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