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This member was an educator in a small rural school district in Northern California before resigning. For privacy concerns, we are not naming her.

Educators across California, and especially rural parts in Northern California, are grappling with tough decisions to keep themselves and their loved ones safe in the face of the pandemic. Why? Because district management fails to cooperate and implement adequate measures to keep students, staff, and the community safe. This is one educator’s story.

“I can’t even believe that it has all come to this. I never wanted to resign from teaching. It’s been a lifelong dream that took me a long time to achieve,” said the educator who has been teaching third grade for seven years. “Our site did distance learning onsite, but hosted district staff children in various classrooms. They shared material, ate closely together, went from room to room, and didn’t properly wear masks. With this as my sample population, and how staff failed to address safety at such a small scale, I knew we were in trouble.”

What made you come to your decision to resign?

“I came to the decision to resign after contacting the State Board of Education, County Office of Education, CTA, and the county public health officer after finding out my site was applying for a waiver [to reopen]. My school is under construction, and we are short two classrooms. Most classrooms are single wide buildings, and most classes have 20-25 students who cannot be distanced more than 2 feet apart. My windows don’t open, and the air-conditioner would just recirculate all those airborne particles all day long. On top of our well water being contaminated with nitrates due to all the construction happening, educators were told to come up with a safety plan and were given masks and hand sanitizer.

“I begged the school board to postpone the waiver, or at least do the plan ‘b’ option of doing a hybrid model where we could be better spaced apart and still have room to teach (not just from a corner of the room). But the president of the board, as well as the superintendent, both have children that attend the school and were more concerned about their children’s mental well-being and need for socialization. I knew at that board meeting that staff wouldn’t be asked what they thought, nor parents. They had their mind made up, and it’s unfortunate we couldn’t get a word in even after they asked us to suggest a safety plan.”

Are you part of the at-risk group for COVID-19, or do you take care of ones at home who are at-risk?

“I was the oldest teacher at the school site, but not considered at risk myself.  My spouse and elderly mother whom I care for with my sister, are very much at risk.”

Did the district find out why you were resigning? And if so, did this make them change course in their reopening plan? Or at least implement safety measures?

“The district (which is a single school district) was aware of my reasons for resigning and the superintendent simply said, ‘I’m sorry you feel this way, but I respect your decision.’ The safety measures, other than the supplied PPE, are up to teachers to figure out.”