KILLEEN, TX — Thousands of teachers have resigned or retired over the last year, but what's more, is the number of educators who've died across our nation from COVID-19.
As many districts continue looking at mitigating viruses in the years to come, the Killeen Educators Association highlights the challenges faculty still face.
"Yes the kids might be okay, but they're not going to empty schools they're not going to empty classrooms, they're going to people who could very much well die from this virus," said Jennifer Lee, an educator with KISD.
"You can say let's screen at home but that doesn't necessarily happen," said Lee.
Even with vaccines rolling out teachers are advocating regarding Covid issues and changes to protect teacher safety inside school districts.
"While COVID preys on the vulnerable it doesn't discriminate," said Rick Beaule, President, Killeen Educators Association.
Entering the 2020-2021 school year, teachers with Killeen ISD said the mentality was if you're working then you need to be in the building, and many teachers say they felt forced back into their classrooms.
"Teachers have been inside the classroom since September," said Beaule.
Several teachers 25 News spoke to had COVID-19, brought it home to their families and suffered from its symptoms for months. Several teachers saying they've lost fellow educators to the disease over the last year.
"I love my job, don't get me wrong, but I dread going to work almost every single day," said bus driver Daniel Bundrant.
Bundrant explaining he was diagnosed with coronavirus, earlier this year.
"I'm afraid, yea I have had it, but I'm afraid to bring it back to my family again. I felt like I was dying for a week and a half, I had every symptom...but yet my kids ran around with no symptoms," said Bundrant.
Losing a colleague to the virus in the last year Bundrant said "I'm afraid, yea I have had it, but I'm afraid to bring it back to my family again."
Killeen ISD is not alone, educators unions across the country are trying to get accurate estimates of the number of faculty they've lost to the virus. One of the most extensive tracking sites from Education Week's memorial website, says as of March 16, 2021, 882 active and retired teachers have died from coronavirus.
Once glaring issue many still don't have an answer for is children and their ability for transmission.
"The idea that 'oh well kids need to go back to school because they can't get it' is one not true and two, misses the point that it could infect the adults who can get it," said Beaule.
Leading educators to implore better mitigation tactics placed into school systems.
Killeen ISD provided an official statement saying: "KISD will continue to analysis various ways to mitigate the spread of COVID and other influenza-like illness for the health and safety for our students, staff and community."
Those with Killeen Educators Association hope in the coming months better school entry policies are implemented, like temperatures being taken at each door, as well as better ventilation systems.
Killeen ISD says air purifiers will be placed across different school facilities, and free hand sanitizer is always available for all KISD schools.