As the debate about how to safely reopen schools continues, a 33-year-old teacher in Florida has spread awareness about her coronavirus concerns by writing her own obituary.
Whitney Reddick, who teaches special education at Duval County Public Schools, told Newsweek it was difficult to write about her own imagined passing in the third person, but that she did it to raise awareness and protest potentially unsafe conditions as schools reopen on August 20.
“Whitney never took the easy path, she was assertive, strong-willed, and bossy, she loved that word because, to her, it meant female leadership,” the obituary reads. “She fought with vigor for things she believed in. She stood up to injustice, embraced those who differed from her, and truly listened when spoken to.”
Reddick posted the premature obituary in a Facebook group of people advocating for coronavirus safety measures at Duval County Public Schools prior to a school board meeting on August 4.
The post describes Reddick as taking on the role of not just an educator, but “COVID-security guard, human shield, firefighter, social worker, nurse, and caregiver” as well.
“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,” it reads.
Reddick isn’t the first educator to prepare an obituary as a form of protest — teachers in Iowa also drafted their own obituaries to send to Gov. Kim Reynolds, NBC reported.
Teachers nationwide have protested the potential health risks of a return to in-person learning. Elsewhere in Florida, attorneys have offered free and discounted will services to educators.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has advocated for schools to reopen in August, but his comparison to retail business incited widespread backlash online, Business Insider previously reported.
“But I’m confident if you can do Home Depot, if you can do Walmart, if you can do these things, we absolutely can do the schools,” he said.
Critics have pointed out that few people spend eight hours a day, five days a week in most retail businesses, and that crowded classrooms, hallways, and buses could present additional risks of infection.
Cases of COVID-19 among staff, teachers, and students have already been reported in states where schools reopened in early August, including Mississippi, Georgia, and Indiana.