Whitney Reddick, who teaches special education in Jacksonville, Florida, posted the mock death notice to Facebook Aug. 4. In it, she proclaims that she died “while alone in isolation and on a ventilator at a Duval county hospital” last week at age 33.
“Even though she shouted from the rooftops, attempted to be unemotional, and educated herself in facts and science, she succumbed to the ignorance of those in power,” the obituary reads. “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,” it continues. “Yes, of course too soon, but we are the ones left with holes in our hearts, missing how big hers was.”
Mourners are then encouraged to send “condolences” to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry (R) and the Duval County school board and superintendent.
According to its website, Duval County public schools are slated to reopen next Thursday with both in-person and remote learning options for students. Though Reddick said in an interview she’ll return to her classroom as scheduled, she added that she’d prefer her district keep classes for all students remote, given that coronavirus cases in Florida continue to surge.
“I felt the gravity of the situation and the obit took that on,” she told “The Today Show” last week. She said that in the debate over reopening schools, educators “no longer became people who had families and loved ones, we became a tool in restarting an economy. I wanted it to hit home that teachers are people and have families and loved ones.”
And Reddick, the mother of a 1-year-old boy, said she’s mostly concerned about what would happen to her family if she were to contract COVID-19.
“I love my job so much,” she told CBS Jacksonville. “What if I go on a ventilator? What if my husband gets sick? ... Who takes care of our son? What if I pass away? What if he passes away?”
In an email, Duval County Superintendent Diana Greene told HuffPost she and her staff planned to “rise to the challenge” of teaching amid the pandemic.
“Teaching is a public service, but it is unlikely any of us thought about a long-term global pandemic when we chose this path to serve children,” she said. “I empathize with the fears some teachers have expressed, and I also empathize with the needs of 130,000 children and their families.”
“With the resources and guidance available to us, we must move forward with every feasible precaution to support our employees and to serve those students who need us in classrooms,” she added.
As of Thursday, more than 550,901 cases of coronavirus had been confirmed in Florida. The state had a testing positivity rate of 13.45%, according to Johns Hopkins University. The university’s statistics on Thursday showed almost 9,000 deaths in Florida attributed to the coronavirus, fifth-most in the U.S.
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