Some Oklahoma teachers find themselves at a crossroads in the COVID-19 pandemic, either risk infection by returning to the classroom or retire early.
"I basically feel like, in some ways forced into those retirement by the school district," said former art teacher Jennifer Brown.
Brown said she never thought this year would be the end her 30 year career as an art teacher, 20 of those with Broken Arrow Public Schools.
“I have coworkers that I love that are like sisters and brothers, and students that I feel like our my babies, my children,” Brown said.
Brown said it was a decision she had to make after the district decided to implement in-person learning and virtual learning. Brown said the district required all teachers to teach from their classrooms, and students would have to take some of her art class in-person.
"My mother is 86 years old and I am currently her primary caretaker. For me to be going to in-person classes daily and then trying to take care of her in the afternoons, there was no time for quarantining, she’s just in such an age group that’s such a risk,” Brown said.
Brown applied for a virtual teaching position, but never got a call. So, she had to make a choice.
"I had to balance my love of teaching and my love of students with my love of family and when you look at those two things it's hard," Brown said.
Brown said other teachers have resigned, but doesn't know if it's because of COVID-19. She said she's grateful to retire and receive benefits, but would rather be teaching.
"I think that every teacher that loves their job, their kids love them, and so I know there's a number of my very special kiddos that are going to be heartbroken,” Brown said.
Even though Brown resigned, she said she still has more good years left in her and would love to return to the classroom once a vaccine is available.