USA: Florida teacher writes mock obituary in protest of schools reopening

USA/ 08 August 2020/ Source/

Whitney Reddick’s obituary called out Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other officials on the decision to reopen schools.

By Ronnie Koenig

As Florida schools get ready to reopen for in-person instruction five days a week, one teacher is staging a protest in a way that’s captured a lot of attention and resonated with other educators.

Whitney Reddick, 33, a teacher in Jacksonville, Florida, wrote a mock obituary for herself, which she posted on Facebook. The post has since received support as teachers grapple with the idea of returning to school amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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“School Board Meeting Tomorrow 8/4/2020: I will be there with my obituary, ready to read,” Reddick posted on Facebook.

“With profound sadness, I announce the passing of Whitney Leigh Reddick,” began the obituary Reddick crafted. “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 was in her 33rd year. Whitney was born on February 21st, 1987 in Jacksonville, Florida to Charles and Fay Reddick, whom she is survived.”

Reddick, who is a special education teacher, told TODAY that she got the idea for the post after seeing a group of teachers from another state send their obituaries to their governor.

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“We no longer became people who had families and loved ones, we became a tool in restarting an economy,” she said of herself and her fellow teachers. “I wanted it to hit home that teachers are people and have families and loved ones.”

As the start of the new school year quickly approaches, many educators are wondering how they can return to schools while keeping themselves and their students safe. Many teachers have expressed fear about returning to in-person instruction, saying that there will be severe consequences.

“I am terrified of schools reopening in the fall,” Aislyn Lipford, a sixth grade language arts teacher in Memphis, Tennessee, told TODAY Parents.

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“Talon turned 14 months the month his mother passed,” reads the passage in the mock obituary about him. “Being so young his memories of her will fade and he will only have those that were captured in film. He will have a hole only a few children bear. However, more now than ever before.”

Whitney Reddick
Whitney Reddick (right) with her son Talon (left), who is now 14 months old.Whitney Reddick

The mock obituary goes on to describe Reddick as an outspoken advocate who “stood up to injustice” and “educated herself in facts and science,” but ultimately “succumbed to the ignorance of those in power.”

“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. Whitney was taken from us. Yes, of course too soon, but we are the ones left with holes in our hearts, missing how big hers was.”

Although she has reservations about returning to the classroom, Reddick said she will go back to work and do her job the best way she knows how. Her students are scheduled to start school five days a week beginning Aug. 20. Reddick also said her principal and parents have been very supportive of her after she expressed her concerns.

“My anxiety will not supersede what I do in the classroom,” she told TODAY. “I can’t give a full sense of security but I will go in and do my best to keep everyone safe and adhere to guidelines.”

On Friday, the head of the Florida teacher’s union said on the 3rd hour of TODAY that reopening schools will be “putting our kids in harm’s way.”

AUG. 7, 202005:37

Reddick ended her mock obituary by calling out the elected officials whose decisions contributed to her hypothetical death.

“Please send your condolences to Governor Ron DeSantis, Mayor Lenny Curry, and finally the Duval County School Board and Superintendent.”

As the debate about the reopening of schools pushes on, some experts say that many teachers will retire early, take a leave of absence or even quit if they are forced to return to the classroom.PARENTS

For now, Reddick’s son will stay home with his father while she returns to work. She said she understands that there are multiple sides to the issue, and that not everyone can stay home with their children. But when it comes to schools, she believes safety comes first.

“A victory for students, families and staff would be a 100% virtual start (of school), at least until there’s a decline,” she said. “Here in Florida we had a small decline because testing centers were closed for the hurricane. There’s such a rise in cases, until there’s a strong downward trend, we should do virtual.”



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