Teachers' Rights Under COVID-19: Anxiety Meets Legality
November 23, 2020
Kye Garcia was in the first year of teaching last school year when a COVID-19 infection led to three harrowing months in the hospital. The 27-year-old special education teacher in Springfield, Mass., is still undergoing physical and occupational therapy, along with regular medical tests to treat lingering effects of the infection, which include a paralyzed vocal cord and lasting lung damage.
Despite that, Garcia, who uses they/them pronouns, headed back to teaching remotely along with other Springfield teachers when the new school year began this fall. But as the district has considered moving to hybrid learning that would include some in-person instruction, Garcia has made clear that they do not feel safe returning to the classroom. They say the school system has been slow to guarantee they would have such an accommodation.
“I said that whenever we go back to the classroom, I can’t do it,” said Garcia. “No one should have to choose between their job and their life.”