Safety-Conscious Teacher Contracts COVID-19


Photo by: Elaina Plankey

Abi Wise, Student of Journalism

In-person NHS students know the sorrow of watching fellow classmates being taken out of class and asked to continue their learning online. It affects classrooms like the autumn trees losing leaves, many falling into the unknowns of quarantine, while the other stragglers are left alone and fearful. However, not only students feel this anxiety. Teachers and staff alike worry about getting more and more exposed. 

On Friday, Oct. 2, Neenah Schools announce that learning for all students will learn online. Mrs. Beth Plankey, an English teacher, feels relief as she learns that teachers may still work from inside their classrooms. Her teaching supplies stay in her room for Monday. She heads up to her cabin with her family, hoping to destress. 

Unbeknownst to her, the classroom and materials will sit unused but still ready like soldiers awaiting their general’s orders.

When they arrive at the cabin, her health declines. The thought of potential sickness frightens her — she takes off only one day in the past three years on account of ill health. Plankey removes herself from her family’s activities, instead, layering blankets over herself. She suffers from a repeating pattern of fever and chills. The sensation affects her unlike anything she experiences before. She contracts COVID-19. 

“You just really feel weak. Your head is not clear . . . you do not feel like yourself. It’s really pretty awful.”

While in-person, Plankey’s students sanitize their hands on entry or exit of the classroom as if it were as vital as breathing. She places her tables as distant as possible and sprays chairs with sanitizer twice daily. Students wear masks diligently. 

Looking back, Plankey recognizes room for growth in each classroom. Smaller class numbers and a greater practice of social distancing inside the building may help slow the spread.