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With Schools Reopening, Teacher Who Voted For Trump Worries She Signed Her Own Death Warrant

The coronavirus pandemic has been the breaking point for some Americans who voted Donald Trump into the presidency in 2016. While there is plenty of blame for the monstrously incompetent handling of the outbreak to pass around, at the end of the day, the leader of the country failed to lead. Now over 150,000 Americans are dead and we have no idea when this will end, yet the country continues to reopen.

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One of the biggest concerns driving us into the last months of 2020 is the reopening of schools. There are no federal requirements or provisions to prepare schools — many of which are horrifically underfunded — to handle hundreds of children, teachers, and staff coming in and out on a daily basis while coronavirus numbers continue to rise.

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Oklahoma special education teacher Nancy Shively, a self-described “lifelong Republican” who voted for Trump in 2016, penned an op-ed for USA Today last month expressing her regret over that decision and what she fears it could mean for her future.

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“When the pandemic hit, the incompetence of the man for whom I had voted and the complicity of everyone around him forced me to admit that I could no longer maintain any kind of self-respect as a Republican,” she wrote. “I changed my voter registration to independent and I will be voting for Joe Biden in November.”

“Nevertheless, I am still haunted because, deep down, I feel that with the 2016 vote I may have signed my own death warrant.”

Shively’s concern is shared by teachers all across the country, who are having to make the choice between continuing in a career they love with constantly dwindling resources and under increasingly dangerous circumstances or erring on the side of keeping themselves and their families safe.

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Though you can find these stories from teachers in any state, any city, Shively’s mention of a young teacher who works in a nearby school district exemplifies what many are up against.

This unnamed teacher has chronic kidney problems, one of the many things that count as underlying conditions that increase the risk of life-threatening complications from COVID-19. But her school district isn’t even requiring anyone to wear a mask, Shively says, so the teacher told her she plans to increase her life insurance and “hope for the best.”

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“Our country has long devalued and underpaid teachers, refusing to adequately fund the public schools that support our democracy. At the same time, teachers routinely have to use their own money to buy classroom supplies,” she wrote. “Now the government is turning to us to risk our health or possibly our lives during a pandemic.”

Shively’s heartfelt essay resonated with people who are grappling with the question of whether or not to return to their jobs as teachers, if they should send their own children back to school in the fall, or, in some cases, whether they can stomach another vote for President Trump after his failed leadership has left this country so undone.

But others have expressed frustration that the teacher, like too many others who voted for Trump and subsequently denounced him, didn’t see or believe what a threat Trump would be to the American people prior to voting for him. 

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“I wasn’t paying attention. I should have been, and I wasn’t. There’s a lot of reasons for that. And I regret that, obviously, now,” Shively told CNN’s Jim Sciutto.

“Just watching the failure of leadership in our country, beginning with the president, over the course of this pandemic, it’s not just my death warrant I might have signed, but there’s 150,000 Americans who are dead because of this,” she added. “I have to take responsibility for my personal vote that enabled that.”