PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. — It’s a challenging time for anyone involved with schools and education. For many deciding how to proceed in a pandemic is a gut wrenching decision.
For a former Paulding County school nurse, the decision to resign and stay away from the classroom this year came at the end of the previous school year.
Amy Westmoreland spoke with Channel 2′s Jorge Estevez explaining her biggest fears were either getting unintentionally infected from a co-worker or student or her passing the virus to them.
“I work in the clinic, not the classroom, but my biggest fear was infecting the children or a fellow staff member there in the building them -- bringing it home to their families,” she told Estevez. “I didn’t feel comfortable. And even going back to the school, at the end of the school year, last year, I walked into the building and people were not wearing masks, custodians, administration, teachers, they were not abiding by those.”
Westmoreland believes her decision to resign is the right thing to do after seeing the widely circulated photo of a crowded Paulding County high school hallway.
“I had already made my decision to resign prior to that picture coming out, but certainly that validated my decision. You know, of course I was horrified and heartbroken when I did see it,” she said.
The former nurse believes despite having a supply of personal protective equipment and being in a clinic, the risk isn’t worth it.
“I don’t feel supported. I don’t feel safe. And I feel as though I need to take a stand so that these children who don’t have a voice and are being discouraged from speaking have a voice,” she said.
Estevez asked her why a nurse whose primary job is to help protect students, will help things by leaving.
“I look at it this way; you know, of course, my nature, my heart wants to run to the children and protect them,” she said. “But I’m taking the stand and doing my job as a nurse on the outside. Knowing the scientific facts concerning the virus. I think I can do I can help these children more by speaking out and being on this side of the clinic as opposed to in the clinic.”
When asked about her thoughts on schools reopening, Westmoreland believes there’s still a lot school leaders are not willing to say.
“I personally think they do know. I just don’t think that they’re willing to admit it. I believe that there’s a lot of political and financial agendas. And I mean, I don’t see this subsiding anytime soon,” she said. “The virus is not contained. We do not know enough about it. And there’s that common thread between all of us healthcare workers, no matter. You know, what our political stance or religion is. Its science, it’s facts. And we care for our patients. And I can’t do that in the clinic.”
The former school nurse said she did try to get some help from the school district but heard nothing other than confirmation her resignation letter was received and would be forwarded to human resources.
Channel 2 Action News tried several times Wednesday to contact Paulding County Schools regarding Westmoreland’s concerns and have not yet received a response.
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