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Teachers are preparing wills and goodbye notes before schools reopen: 'I'm scared as hell'

A growing list of anxious school teachers are rushing to lawyers and estate planners to draw up new wills as a pandemic-era back-to-school measure.

Teachers are preparing wills and goodbye notes before schools reopen: 'I'm scared as hell'
Cover Image Source: Middle school teacher Brittany Myers, (C) stands in protest in front of the Hillsborough County Schools District Office on July 16, 2020, in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

Terri Crothers loves her job as an art instructor. However, when her middle school district—like many others—announced that schools are to restart in-person classes next month, Crothers was, for the very first time, terrified of her profession. The prospect of going back to school amid the coronavirus pandemic left her so fearful for her life that she immediately contacted an attorney and started writing goodbye letters to her family. Crothers, who suffers from diabetes, scrambled to get her affairs in order as she did not want to make things complicated for her elderly parents and 19-year-old daughter if she were to get sick or maybe even die after contracting the virus at school.



According to PEOPLE, Crothers is just one in a growing list of anxious school teachers rushing to lawyers and estate planners to draw up new wills as a pandemic-era back-to-school measure. While the Trump administration pushes forward with its "science should not stand in the way" motto, educators—especially those whose underlying medical conditions—now have to choose between putting themselves at risk of contracting a deadly virus and quitting their job. "I'm scared as hell about going back into the classroom," said Crothers.



"I'm frightened that if I catch the virus, I won't survive or I will be left with debilitating effects," the 57-year-old from Gallipolis, Ohio, added. "I don't want to leave my family with the mess of taking care of whatever I might have left behind." Aside from legally laying out her final wishes, the divorced mom will also task her attorney with delivering letters to her teen daughter, Sydney, and her elderly parents, whom she has been helping take care of. "Sydney will know that I love her and that I'm terribly sorry that I can't be there for her graduation, her wedding someday or her first child," the terrified teacher said.



"I am telling her that I fought hard to live because I couldn't stand to be without her, but my time has come and my last thoughts will be of her," she added. As for her mom and dad, Crothers plans to write "how grateful I am for the love and life they gave me. I will ask them to be strong and be there for Sydney as long as they are able. I will tell them I will see them on the other side." Hers is not an isolated case as educators in districts determined to reopen schools even as the pandemic worsens in parts of the US, are now rushing to get their affairs in order.



"We're seeing a lot of uptick in demands for wills, powers of attorney and other healthcare directives," explained John Midgett, secretary of the National Association of Estate Planners. "In case something happens, they don't want to leave more problems for their families." While a survey conducted before the pandemic revealed that a whopping 84 percent of respondents aged 18-34, and 73 percent of people aged 35-54 didn't have any such legal documents or weren't sure if they do or not, Midgett revealed that this appears to be changing now.



"I felt like it was time to solidify and put it in writing, and make our wishes known," said Shawn Arthur, an 8th-grade math teacher in St. Louis. The 36-year-old father of two young children has asthma his wife's Crohn's disease medication impacts her immune system, he revealed. "We're worried about what might happen to the kids if something might happen to both of us," he said. Shaela Rieker, a 4th-grade general education educator in the Wapato School District on the Yakama Nation reservation in Washington, faces a similar situation. "My husband is a stay-at-home dad and I have autoimmune issues," the 34-year-old revealed.



"I am at high risk for the more extreme effects of this virus," the mother-of-two added. "It would just be irresponsible for me to…not have a will and adequate life insurance to keep my family protected." The National Education Association, the labor union that represents public school teachers, said it's distressing that teachers even have to contemplate such issues. "We've heard of panicked teachers updating their wills," said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. "It is unconscionable that educators and parents are being asked to plan for end-of-life decisions because our country has no plan for reopening schools and institutions of higher education safely."


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