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Merritt Island teacher ‘terrified’ about returning to school

18-year math teacher fears bringing virus home to son at increased risk

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. – In 12 days, students in Brevard County will start the 2020-2021 school year including Traci Stiles’ son.

Stiles has been a math teacher for 18 years at Merritt Island High School.

"This whole virus has us quite terrified about returning to school," Stiles said.

Her son Blake will be an 8th grade student and at just 14, he’s had two kidney transplants, one when he was 5 years old and the second when he was 9. Blake will be learning from home because he is more at risk for the coronavirus.

"I do worry about taking it home to him. It could affect him so badly," Stiles said.

Brevard Public Schools is encouraging more families to choose eLearning to keep class sizes smaller.

Stiles said she does not agree with the decision to open brick-and-mortar schools and wanted to go entirely with eLearning.

The first day for Brevard students originally would have been Aug. 11 but the district moved the first day of school to Aug. 24.

On Tuesday, school board members passed requiring most teachers and students to wear face coverings in close spaces.

“They’ve provided us with a bunch of masks similar to the one I’m wearing now,” Stiles said. “If a kid needs one, you can give them a brand new one right out of the box.”

While Stiles said the high school is doing everything it can to make teachers comfortable, she's not sure if she'll feel safe until school starts.

“It’s a wait and see. We’re going to be in a classroom with children who are not always very cognizant about where they are coughing or sneezing. If you don’t actually get what they have, you could take it home to your family,” she said.


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