COVID-19, Teachers, Utilitarianism

BY: CLAIRE KIM

Another late night talk with my father has inspired me to write a blog post this afternoon. In regards to the recent controversy regarding teachers and the COVID-19 vaccines, I found it quite shocking how the public, parents in particular, has placed so much pressure on teachers to get the vaccines for their own self-interests: to get their children on campus for their convenience. With students back on campus the merits are obvious: parents don’t need to have their children bothering them at home, parents can rely on daycare services, and, most importantly, parents can get their students up from the lazy habits they have embraced over the past year of distance learning.

But while such benefits definitely come with a transition to in-person learning, I believe that teachers who don’t feel comfortable in attending school facilities should not be coerced to do so. Essentially, I believe that only those teachers who find interest in this pursuit, should be encouraged to go and teach on campus.

This belief comes from a position of perspective. If I was in their shoes, I would surely feel uncomfortable. Aware of multiple teachers at my school who have young toddlers, even babies that are less than a year old, I find it reasonable that teachers don’t want to go on campus and take the risk of getting the coronavirus and potentially spreading it to their children. Young, their children’s immune systems are not entirely ready to handle such a demanding virus.

I foresee the basis of those in favor of teachers going on campus as a result of a utilitarianism mindset, “the doctrine that actions are right if they are useful or for the benefit of a majority.” Believing that the opportunity for students to engage in in-class learning overweighs the risks of one or more teachers getting sick is an argument that presents a lack of humility for all people in our community. Regardless of how many people get sick, I believe that the confirmed case of any one individual is enough to cause discomfort and discrepancy from the teachers’ perspectives.

In short, no one should be coerced to go out of their way to a public institution if they don’t feel comfortable doing so. Teachers are humans just like students and parents, so I feel that we need to respect their decisions just as fairly.

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