Teacher pens own obituary amid coronavirus fears
A teacher has penned her own obituary as a way of protesting returning to school amid the coronavirus pandemic in the US.
Earlier this week, Whitney Reddick, from Jacksonville in the US state of Florida, wrote and posted her own obituary to Facebook ahead of returning to school as she did not believe it was safe to do so.
“With profound sadness, I announce the passing of Whitney Leigh Reddick,” the obituary reads.
“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.”
Ms Reddick explained she would be attending a school board meeting where she planned to bring her obituary.
While the number of COVID-19 patients being treated in Florida hospitals has begun to decline, the state surpassed 8000 coronavirus deaths this week.
The obituary goes on to explain Ms Reddick’s relationship with her husband, Evan, who she met in primary school – though the two never dated in school and got together in 2013 after rekindling their friendship.
Together, the couple welcomed their first child, Talon, in June 2019, who Ms Reddick mentioned in her obituary.
“Talon turned 14 months the month his mother passed,” Ms Reddick wrote.
“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.”
The obituary then goes on to explain Ms Reddick is “assertive, strong-willed, and bossy, she loved that word because, to her, it meant female leadership”.
“She invested the time and dedication in improving and honing her passions to give them a voice, to not cower because she seemed too loud, too aggressive, or uneducated,” she said.
“She was introspective and when an adversary arose, she listened, therefore, to become better equipped in leaving the adversary unarmed and better informed.”
The obituary then takes a swipe at those in power making decisions regarding public health.
According to the Palm Beach Post, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has pushed for summer schools to reopen and school boards were told they would need approval from the Health Department to keep schools closed amid the pandemic.
According to USA Today, health directors across the state were instructed to not give approval, instead, only providing instructions on how to reopen safely.
Ms Reddick added in her obituary even though she “shouted from the rooftops” and “educated herself in facts and science”, she “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,” the obituary said.
“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.”
The obituary concludes by calling out Governor DeSantis by name, along with Mayor Lenny Curry and her local county school board and Superintendent.
“Please send your condolences to Governor Ron DeSantis, Mayor Lenny Curry, and finally the Duval County School Board and Superintendent,” the obituary says.
“Whitney asks that donations be made in lieu of flowers to Making Strides with Autism in her honour.”
Ms Reddick told news station WJAX she loved her job and she would return to the classroom later in August, however she is worried about her own health and her husband’s.
She feared the two of them would get sick and be unable to care for their son.
People on Facebook said the teacher’s obituary was “heartbreaking”.
“Oh wow! It should not come to this,” one person said.
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Ms Reddick is not the only teacher who has concerns about returning to the classroom. Last month Florida teachers sued to block what they call the “reckless and unsafe reopening” of public school campuses for face-to-face instruction.
The Florida Education Association lawsuit argued that reopening this fall would put students and school employees at risk – as well as accelerate the spread of the coronavirus.
“Governor DeSantis needs a reality check, and we are attempting to provide one,” said FEA President Fedrick Ingram.
“The governor needs to accept the reality of the situation here in Florida, where the virus is surging out of control.”
With Associated Press
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