After teaching for nearly two decades at numerous elementary, middle and high schools around Fort Collins, Colorado, Randy Black was forced into retirement due to health conditions that made him more susceptible to Covid-19.
When the last school district he worked for announced they would be returning to in-person instruction this year, Black, 68, considered it "a life or death decision and I chose life."
Black, a former math and science teacher, suffers from asthma and takes three prescriptions for it.
"My decision was based both on the school's safety measures and follow through, and a personal health decision. Had I been offered another year teaching online I most likely would have stayed," Black told CNN over email. "My faith in how we are culturally handling the pandemic, the back and forth, the misinformation, and the ignorance of basic viral science played a huge role in my decision. That is, I am on my own and cannot at this time rely on society to make decisions on Covid-19 that are effective or safe."
Black is currently looking at a retirement job in wellness coaching using traditional Chinese medicine to supplement his pension, he said.
A student of history: Black said the time he spent studying the 1918 flu prepared him for what the coronavirus pandemic would become.
The 1918 flu killed 50 million to 100 million people through 1919. There are eerie parallels between the 1918 flu and the 2020 coronavirus pandemic: a disease with a startling range of symptoms for which there is little treatment, human behavior as a hindrance to public health and cluster outbreaks that have become widespread, to name a few.
The startling and harrowing nature of the 1918 flu and its fatal consequences induced a sense of caution that, in some places, had permanent implications for how people would respond to disease outbreaks in later decades — such as using isolation and quarantine, according to a 2010 paper by Nancy Tomes, a distinguished professor of history at Stony Brook University.