An essay in the Atlantic makes an argument that might not sit well with many of the nation's teachers: Kristen McConnell writes that they need to suck it up and do their jobs amid the pandemic. The twist is that McConnell is an ICU nurse in New York who took care of coronavirus patients in the hospital even though she was "terrified" at times—after all, working under "potentially lethal circumstances" is not what doctors and nurses (aside from rare cases, like those who go to war zones) sign up for, she writes. The other twist is that her own husband is a public-school teacher in New York City, and he is on board with her point of view. "Schools are essential to the functioning of our society, and that makes teachers essential workers," writes McConnell, who has two young daughters. "They should rise to the occasion even if it makes them nervous, just like health-care workers have."
And she sees an even better parallel when it comes to obligation: that of teachers and grocery store workers. "People who work at grocery stores in no way signed up to expose themselves to disease, but we expected them to go to work, and they did. If they had not, society would have collapsed. What do teachers think will happen if working parents cannot send their children to school? Life as we know it simply will not go on." Still, the fear is understandable, McConnell adds, and she writes that proper safety protocols must be in place to protect teachers. Further, schools should remain closed in any locality seeing a spike in cases. But all that aside, she thinks teachers talking about "safety strikes" would be better served focusing on their classroom work. "They should take a cue from their fellow essential workers and do their job." Read the full essay. (Read more teachers stories.)