“It’s Life Or Death” – Teachers Fear Return To Class

As schools reopen across the country with COVID-19 cases still soaring, teachers question whether a return to the classroom is worth risking lives. NBC's Chris Pollone reports.

(NBC News) — As school districts across the country prepare to reopen for the fall semester, parents in many states have a tough decision: Whether to send their children back into the classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic or to keep them home.

It turns out it’s not just parents who are facing some hard choices.

Teachers and other school workers have some things to think about, too.

When her North Carolina private school decided to bring all students back into its classrooms starting next week, a million questions rushed into teacher Gwen Henshaw’s mind.

“Are we going to attempt check 850 kids every morning? Where is that time coming from?” she asks.

And the more questions she asked, the less satisfied she was with the answers, if she got answers, at all.

“It’s life or death,” Henshaw says.

She felt school leaders weren’t taking the health of teachers and other staffers seriously.

“So the entire process just left me as a human shattered,” she says. “How could three months ago everybody think of us as educators as extremely important, needed, our value was invaluable, and now we were being told that our lives weren’t valuable.”

Henshaw made the difficult decision to resign, leaving a place she loved after four years.

She’s fortunate she had the option to walk away, prioritizing her health over her paycheck.

“There are teachers right now who I think are afraid to speak up because they are stuck, financially and somebody needs to be their voice,” Henshaw says.

She found a new job where she will teach just six students face-to-face, with less potential exposure to COVID-19.

Read more here.