Tracy woke up early on Monday, August 3, the first day of school at Sequoyah High in Cherokee County. But she never left the house. Instead she drank her coffee alone and worried about the other teachers. And she cried.
"We all just want to do our jobs," she told me on the phone later that week. "We want to be alive to do them."
Tracy is 53, with a minor heart ailment and a more serious lung condition. Her father smoked in the home when she was a child, leaving her vulnerable to respiratory viruses. In 2014, a bad case of the flu became pneumonia and put her in the hospital. Now her in-laws live with her. Both are in their 70s. Her mother-in-law has diabetes and high blood pressure; her father-in-law has Parkinson's Disease and takes immunosuppressive drugs for his rheumatoid arthritis. All that to say why Tracy could not afford to bring home the coronavirus.
As Georgia's infection rate soared in July,
many districts chose not to physically re-open schools in August. But in Cherokee County, an upscale area of about 250,000
in the green hills between Atlanta and the Appalachian Mountains, parents wanted a choice. According to district spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby, the county gave it to them. Students could learn digitally from home or in person at school. But teachers would have no such choice. Even if they were teaching virtual classes, they would have to do so from a school building. And students would not be required
to wear masks.