Fayetteville High Principal gets creative to help teacher feel safe

Protecting Mrs. Roberts

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - As we debate and prepare for a return to the classroom, students have been the focus of the conversation, as they should be. But what about the teachers?

Each day, teachers will have dozens of students coming through their classrooms, anyone of them could have COVID-19 and not even know it.

For some teachers, like Mrs. Tiffany Roberts at Fayetteville High School, the possibility of getting COVID-19 is even more dangerous than usual.

”I am immunocompromised so I’m in the high risk category,” Roberts said.

She’s been a teacher for 28 years, this is her second year now at Fayetteville High School. But, Roberts said she almost didn’t come back this year.

“I could go ahead and retire and at 2:00 in the morning my husband was like, ‘You just need to retire.’” she said. “But I’m not ready to retire. I love what I do and if we can make it work I’m not going anywhere.”

So, Roberts wears a mask, her students will all have to do the same and she’s got a sanitation station right as kids walk in the door.

She said her and her students will all look out for each other this year.

But, those precautions still weren’t enough for her principal, Adam McCormick. McCormick said Roberts first came to him in April with her concerns and since then he’s been focused on what they can do to make sure she feels comfortable teaching this year.

“Through a lot of the discussions, we kind of came to, ‘Would a barrier make you feel better?‘ And she said, ‘Yes, absolutely’ and I said, ‘Ok, we’ll figure out a way to get it done,‘” he said.

McCormick said he saw a video on Facebook with a similar idea and that is where he got his inspiration.

“I just took that idea and threw some pipe and a shower curtain together and made those screens,” he said.

McCormick built two large screens, one for the front of the class and one to go in front of Roberts’ desk.

“It was like Christmas walking in this morning,” Roberts said. “I just open the door and just kind of stood there in shock.”

McCormick said he didn’t do it for recognition, he just hopes the students realize how much their teachers care.

“That’s the one thing I really want to stress to the kids, is that you have people that want to be here to help you learn and obviously they’re willing to go the extra mile to make that happen,” he said.

For Roberts, she wants McCormick to know how much his care means to her.

“I came in this morning, didn’t realize it would be here and kind of cried walking in my door,” she said.”It’s such a blessing to be appreciated and have people willing to go above and beyond to make sure you feel safe.”

On Tuesday, Mrs. Roberts will get a chance to test out her new screens with her students in the room. Fayetteville City Schools is on a staggered schedule, so she didn’t have any students on the first day of class.

Roberts said she’s very excited to get back to doing what she loves.

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