Re-opening plan does not protect at-risk teachers

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Posted July 13, 2020 | By Robin Koper, Guest Columnist

I have taught in Marion County for the past 20 years. I am a 2014 Golden Apple recipient. I am passionate about teaching and miss my students.

Last year, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor and underwent brain surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. During the time of my diagnosis, I developed a seizure disorder. Medication has enabled me to control my seizures, and at this time I am neurologically stable and doing well.

Contracting COVID-19 could change all of that. My doctor says that I have a distinct neurological vulnerability to COVID-19, which could lead to serious hospitalization.

I am speaking on behalf of every high-risk teacher in Marion County. We have devoted our lives to our students. Now we ask that you protect our lives.

As I look amongst you, I see our board members and superintendent social distancing – we ask that you please give your students and teachers the same protection to socially distance.

How can this be accomplished in an average-size classroom of 20 or more students?

Many of us are afraid. We are stressed and wonder how we will teach our students effectively, with the daily panic of dodging COVID-19.

Teachers never imagined a time that they would be forced to choose between their lives or their jobs. Some of us fear we will lose everything if we leave our jobs. But leave we will, if forced to save our own health. 

We ask that you, our leaders, advocate for your high-risk teachers, and ALL Marion County teachers and staff.

We are trusting that you will make decisions not based on pressure or politics, but on the health and well-being of our community.

This too shall pass, but human lives cannot be replaced.

Robin Koper is a Marion County Middle School teacher.

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