Teacher writes own obituary to protest reopening of schools amid COVID-19
A public-school teacher in the United States wrote a powerful message to highlight what could happen to her and her fellow educators when they return to work amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The 35-year-old Whitney Reddick wrote her own obituary and posted it via Facebook last Tuesday, Aug. 4. Reddick intended to read the obituary during a school board meeting to protest the reopening of classes in her school in Duval County, Florida, on Aug. 20.
The teacher believes that returning to a classroom setup might not be 100% safe for them or their students, as she pushed for conducting classes virtually. Despite her protest, the teacher said she would return to teaching in a classroom to fulfill her duties, as per CBS-affiliate WJAX last Wednesday, Aug. 5.
“With profound sadness, I announce the passing of Whitney Leigh Reddick,” she wrote on her mock obituary. “A loving and devoted teacher, mother, daughter, wife, aunt, and friend to all whose lives she touched, on August 7th, 2020.”
“She left us while alone in isolation and on a ventilator at a Duval county hospital in Jacksonville, Florida,” she added.
The teacher talked about how she and her husband, Evan Peterson, met in elementary school and rekindled their friendship in 2013. Then, she shared the story of their first child, Talon Charles Peterson, who they welcomed into this world in June 2019.
“Talon turned 14 months the month his mother passed. Being so young his memories of her will fade and he will only have those that were captured in film,” Reddick said. “He will have a hole only a few children bear. However, more now than ever before.”
“She fought with vigor for things she believed in. She stood up to injustice, embraced those who differed from her, and truly listened when spoken to,” the teacher added.
The woman also talked about how she “never took the easy path.”
“However, even though she shouted from the rooftops, attempted to be unemotional, and educated herself in facts and science, she succumbed to the ignorance of those in power,” Reddick said.
“She returned to work, did her best to handle all the roles placed on her shoulders; educator, COVID-security guard, human shield, firefighter, social worker, nurse, and caregiver but the workload weakened her, and the virus took hold,” she added.
Reddick apparently did not make it to the school board meeting due to a “family matter,” which was why she spoke with the local news outlet about her protest. Reddick expressed how much she loves being a teacher while explaining why she is hesitant to go back to school.
“I love my job so much, I teach children with severe special needs,” she was quoted saying.
“What if I go and [have it] later?” she added. “What if my husband gets sick, and then we’re both in there, who takes care of our son? What if I pass away? What if he passes away?”
Reddick’s obituary came amid growing concerns from educators in Florida who likewise expressed their fears about returning to school during the health crisis, NBC-affiliate WFLA reported yesterday, Aug. 7.
The largest teacher union in the state, Florida Education Association, has since filed a lawsuit against its governor, Ron DeSantis, to grant school districts the authority to decide when schools can reopen for the next school year. The governor also filed a motion to dismiss the union’s lawsuit.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US has 4.858 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, as of yesterday, Aug. 7. A total of 158,880 patients have succumbed to the disease in the country. Cha Lino /ra
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