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'I'm going to miss it. It's my heart:' First Coast teachers choosing to retire instead of returning to classrooms amid COVID-19 concerns

Two teachers with a combined 75 years in education tell First Coast News they didn't want to return over concerns of their health and their students.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Amy Scott's heart is full after nearly 45 years in education.

"I'm going to miss it. It's my heart,” she described.

But, in a way, it's also empty knowing this past year was her last.

"Until there is a vaccine, I am afraid for myself and my students,” Scott told First Coast News.

As a theory of knowledge and philosophy teacher, she says virtual learning isn't the best teaching method for those subjects and without a vaccine, Scott says she didn't feel comfortable being in a classroom with 30 students.

"If we can't control the kids on the beach drinking and partying outside of school on the weekends, they are going to bring that into the classroom, too,” she said.

Credit: Courtesy: Amy Scott
Amy Scott spent almost 45 years as a theory of knowledge and philosophy teacher.

Linda Brown put in 30 years as an English teacher in South Florida. When she was told her district would transition to all online learning, she emailed her resignation to the principal.

"It was easier for me to do email because I get really emotional. So, it was easier for me,” she said.

Brown says her son has a rare autoimmune disease and at the time, around March, some of her students were sick.

Coupled with the uncertainty of how COVID-19 would impact the next school year, she had a talk with her husband about retiring.

"We sat down and he said, ‘You know, we are at the age where this could be really serious for him and myself,’” Brown said.

Florida law does not allow teachers to strike. So, both teachers tell me there will be some tough decisions ahead for teachers who aren't at retirement age or don't have the years of service to retire.

Florida also had a history of having teacher shortages and COVID-19 could increase the demand for hiring more.