Wis. teacher fights return to in-person learning after husband’s death from COVID-19
By WTMJ Staff| January 10, 2021 at 1:03 AM CST – Updated January 10 at 1:03 AM
KENOSHA, Wis. (WTMJ) – As schools in Kenosha, Wisconsin, prepare to return to in-person learning, one teacher who believes she contracted COVID-19 in the classroom then passed it on to her husband, who died, is fighting that decision.
Jeanne Hoffman believes she contracted COVID-19 while teaching in-person in the Kenosha Unified School District. Her close friend, Tanya Kitts-Lewinski, says Hoffman used all of her medical leave before returning to the school because her husband was high risk.
Within two weeks of her return, Hoffman contracted the virus, which she then passed on to her husband and her mother. Her husband died last Sunday.
“Although Jim fought really hard for 19 days, he did not make it through,” Kitts-Lewinski said. “She’s incredibly heartbroken, as anyone could imagine. She wants to make sure this never happens to anyone else in our district.”
During a Wednesday night meeting of the Kenosha School Board, teachers and parents gave their opinions about the planned return to in-person learning.
Among those was a statement from Hoffman, shared by the executive director of the Kenosha Education Association, a teachers union.
“Returning in person before it is safe to do so will lead to occurrences of more of the same tragedy that has needlessly struck my family,” the statement read.
Kitts-Lewinski, the president of the union, says a return to in-person teaching right now just isn’t safe.
“Many educators are weighing their options right now. I’m hearing from people who are pretty desperate and who have reached out to the district to ask what choices they have, and they’re being told they can take unpaid leave,” she said.
The union claims another teacher, similar to Hoffman, also contracted COVID-19 in the classroom and passed it on to her husband, who died in November.
A school district spokesperson released a statement that reads in part, “The district has always required anyone with COVID symptoms or a positive COVID test result to remain at home… We intend to continue with this practice going forward.”
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