On Friday, Louisiana’s governor recommended that all individuals, vaccinated or unvaccinated, mask up indoors due to the surge of COVID 19 cases caused by the Delta variant in our state. Two-thirds of people from the state are unvaccinated.
And as of right now, there is no mask mandate for schools.
This vaccinated teacher is tired. This vaccinated teacher is terrified of what’s going to start happening in classrooms if the state doesn’t require students and staff to mask up.
I say this for selfish and unselfish reasons. But isn’t it ridiculous that saying it’s for selfish reasons directly relates to my own health? How can making sure that I do everything to prevent serious illness for myself be considered selfish? That’s some bullshit that society is feeding you and me both, sis.
I’m going to be walking into a middle school classroom in two weeks and asked to teach in a room full of children who are vaccine-eligible who are more than likely unvaccinated. Only 25 percent of kids ages 12-15 are fully vaccinated in the U.S. (I couldn’t find any specific info about that rate in Louisiana.). I’m on a biologic called Entyvio that makes me more likely to catch contagious diseases. It also reduces my ability to fight infections. I need this medicine (though I wish I could get off it) to control my ulcerative colitis, which made me lose so much blood last year that I had to have a blood transfusion. I also have a few other autoimmune conditions. I refuse to apologize for being concerned about my safety in the classroom with this more contagious variant that’s rampaging across our state right now.
Sidebar: And before you say you can just quit your job if you feel unsafe, just because a person has chronic illness doesn’t mean that person should have to give up their job. That’s ableism, sis. Straight up ableism. According to the CDC, “In 2018, 51.8% of US adults had at least 1 chronic condition, and 27.2% had multiple chronic conditions.” I’m not one for widespread generalizations usually, but I’m pretty sure a lot of you would have a lot to say if 52 percent of Americans were unemployed because of chronic illness during a pandemic because a lot of you already have a lot to say about the labor shortage. End sidebar.
I was so looking forward to not being held captive by my desk and to handing out paper-based assignments this year, but I hate to break it to you and to me that that’s not going to happen.
I will be teaching from my desk again.
My students will be doing everything on their devices again.
I will not be walking around the classroom.
I will not sit down with a small group of kids or individual students who are unmasked to help them work. I’ll have to do it digitally again or stand six feet away from them and shout instructions, I guess? I’ll make whatever work, but it won’t be as effective as one on one.
I will ask unmasked students who stand too close to me to back up.
I will ask unmasked colleagues who stand too close to me to back up.
I will not eat in the teacher’s lounge.
In the past two weeks, I’ve known four fully vaccinated people test positive for coronavirus.
I hate to break it to you again, sis, that this will not be a normal school year even if the kids are maskless.
There will still be contact tracing (from what I understand), sis.
Your child will be quarantined (from what I understand), sis.
Your child will have to learn from home again if that happens (from what I understand), sis.
Your children’s teachers might miss school for weeks because they and their families are sick. That teacher might be so sick that they can’t even teach from home, sis. (And heaven knows that some will try even when they’re super sick because of teacher guilt and ridiculous expectations for teachers.)
But I really hope that the governor puts the mandate back in place before school starts because just recommending it isn’t going to cut it.
I’m sick of masking too, but if it means that it keeps more people safe and keeps kids in school instead of at home and helps prevent illness, I just don’t understand why you’re so against it, sis.
And I’m going to take one for the team and say it, sis, and believe me, I know an argument has never been won by insulting the other person, and I’m going to say this in the kindest way I know how to, but you can say you’re for an individual’s rights but to my ears that sounds like being selfish when we should all be more selfless when the entire world is facing a public health crisis.
So, I’m going to wear my mask to school, sis, and I hope you make the decision to send your kids to school in masks too. Because there’s no “I” or “me” in together.