A special education teacher near Tulsa, Oklahoma, said she is haunted by the fear that she “signed my own death warrant” by voting for Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
In an op-ed published in USA Today on Thursday, Nancy Shively, a self-described lifelong Republican, condemned the president’s push to reopen schools during the coronavirus pandemic — with in-person instruction beginning this fall — as well as his threats to withdraw federal funding from those that don’t.
Shively, who is over 60 and has two autoimmune diseases, said she was “terrified” by the idea of returning to class in a matter of weeks.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to spiral in multiple states, including Oklahoma, where Trump held a rally last month that public health officials believe contributed to a significant spread of the virus.
Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ preaching “to career educators about the benefits of being in school, is not only unnecessary but downright insulting,” Shively wrote.
“Of course our kids need to be in school! And teachers want to be there with them. For most of us, it is not only a profession but a calling,” she said. “However it needs to be done safely. With the status quo as it is, that cannot be done in most of the country. And we need to stop pretending that it can.”
Shively said she voted for Trump over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton because she believed him to be “the less bad of two choices.”
This November, she’s promised her vote to presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
“When the pandemic hit, the incompetence of the man for whom I had voted and the complicity of everyone around him forced me to admit that I could no longer maintain any kind of self-respect as a Republican,” Shively said.
Trump and his allies have repeatedly suggested, without providing any evidence to back up the claim, that some schools are remaining closed in a political bid to harm his reelection campaign.
The National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, has insisted that adequate safety measures to protect staff and students need to be funded and in place before they can even consider returning to school.
On Thursday, Trump partially relented on his threats by acknowledging that some schools in areas seeing surges of the virus may need to delay reopening.
He punted the decision to governors, the Associated Press reported.
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