Teacher shares concerns about returning to in-person learning

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Erin Rai Otey-Jethro has concerns about her colleagues’ safety as Shelby County Schools transitions back to in-person learning.

“The students have a choice to stay safe, but you’re not giving the teachers and the staff a choice to stay safe,” Otey-Jethro said.

She teaches at White Station Middle School, which will welcome back students next Monday.

Otey-Jethro said her biggest issue is not having the chance to get both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

‘The teachers, we want our children to learn,” she said. “We love all the babies just like they’re ours. We want the students to be successful. We want to be able to teach you but in a safe way.”

RELATED: Thousands of Shelby County Schools students get back to in-person learning

According to SCS, 6,000 vaccines were administered at its sites last week.

Otey-Jethro said she got vaccinated but has to wait a couple of weeks to get the second dose, which she feels doesn’t leave her completely protected.

She said the vaccine should have been available for teachers at least three weeks ago and feels the return date should have been pushed back.

“I understand the doctors and the nurses and everyone else that needs these,” she said. “The nursing home residents need the vaccine. So I mean, what’s two more weeks?”

She feels getting kids to follow safety precautions will be another challenge.

RELATED: More Shelby County teachers receive COVID-19 vaccines

“Of course, they’re going to want to hug their friends,” she said. “Of course, they’re going to get annoyed with the masks. They’re going to have it below their nose. They’re not going to wash their hands properly. Everything is going to be a challenge. It really is.”

Lastly, Otey-Jethro is worried about what she may bring home.

Her 73-year old mother lives with her and has an autoimmune disease. And even though her mom received a vaccine, Otey-Jethro worries about exposing her to the virus.

“But you just pray and know that God is in control,” she said.

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