Teachers from states banning mask mandates are speaking out. Here's what they want you to know

Updated 10:36 AM ET, Sun August 15, 2021

(CNN)Teachers are already struggling to do their job during a pandemic. But it's worse for those working in states where mask mandates are prohibited.

Some fear students who aren't eligible for vaccines may die. Others worry about having to enforce social distancing. Or they worry about bringing the virus home to family.
State officials in some states, including Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arizona and Iowa, have passed laws or used their authority to prevent statewide mask mandates and make mask usage optional.
CNN spoke with teachers from states banning mask mandates to get their perspective. They requested CNN withhold their last names out of fear of retribution.
Here are some of their stories, as told in their own words. Their responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Pam • Oklahoma
I teach in Oklahoma where it is now illegal for schools to mandate masks or vaccination. This is my 25th year teaching. My biggest concern this year is that there is a real possibility one of my fifth graders could die from Covid-19 and I can't do anything to protect them because it is against the law.
I just can't imagine having students that are there one day and not the next. Or even if they don't die, what if they're hospitalized and have to go through that traumatic experience? If I have someone walk into my room with a weapon, I would do everything I could to protect my kids. And so this just seems so backwards that I can't protect them from something that I can't see.
Julie • Houston
There are over 3,000 students at my high school. There will not be three feet between anybody at any given time. How fast do you think the Delta variant will travel within that population? I have no power. There are no teacher unions in Texas. Walking back into my school building is going to feel like I'm a lamb walking into a slaughterhouse.
I don't see how the governor has the power to tell the school districts what to do, it's ridiculous. It's a public health issue. The least we could do is to wear masks. Those work. The kids all wore them last year and they didn't have any problem. Not one kid. And I have older students, they're seniors. When the kids have more sense than the district, you have wonder what the school district's doing. And I hate to say this, but for Texas, it's going to take children dying for the governor to take that no mask mandate away.
Victoria • Palm Beach County, Florida
I worry since I live in one of the largest counties in Florida and masks are not allowed to be enforced in schools that there will be a lot of Covid cases in our area. My school district has become very creative with their mandate. They're doing a loophole where masks are now required for students unless a parent has written an opt out letter.
This is my second year teaching. I spent my entire student teaching experience in this pandemic, and I want to be able to have normalcy in my job since I've never had it. The only way to get to that point is by being safe right now, but it seems our governor is too concerned with politics than with the lives of young children. I'm so excited to get back into the classroom,