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Reports from across the U.S. continue to pour in, pointing to the degree to which the teaching industry has so profoundly changed since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

As we approach the two-year mark, many teachers have either opted for early retirement or simply left the profession and looked for other career options. Some say they’re either unwilling or unable to navigate the tenuous terrain of teaching in the “new normal” environment of hybrid learning which incorporates both in-person and virtual instruction.

But this latest change in pedagogy has led to burnout for a lot of teachers. Some say they feel like the day is never over particularly with the rise in Zoom-based meetings with other colleagues, supervisors and parents – and with students who need additional help.

These teachers need our understanding and deserve to be protected. They do far more than just provide instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic. Some teachers help children learn essential social skills. Some teachers provide a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear. Some offer that needed smile or word of encouragement. Yes, they wear a plethora of hats — and most wear them willingly and efficiently.

But now, with the growing controversy over “to vaccinate or not to vaccinate” and whether the vaccine for COVID-19 should be mandated, teachers face an even greater danger.

In the old days, you could always count on your first or second grader eventually coming home with a runny nose, a cough and a fever. They had caught a cold from one or more of their classmates. Maybe, they came in contact with a germ-laden desk or a tainted doorknob or chair.

But now, children and their teachers, when they come down with the sniffles, may not just have a cold. They may have COVID-19.

Sure, we believe in people having their rights. But if we’re ever going to make school a social experience — the kind that all children desire and deserve, with lunchtime, homecomings, football game showdowns between archrivals and after-school dances — we’ve got to make sure teachers and students are protected.

Because they, too, have a right to LIVE.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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