High risk Fayetteville teacher grateful to be able to continue teaching through pandemic

High risk Fayetteville teacher has safe first semester

FAYETTEVILLE, Tenn. (WAFF) - As the second semester of the school year gets ready to start at Fayetteville High School, one teacher is counting her blessings and looking forward to continuing to do what she loves.

We first told you about Mrs. Tiffany Roberts and her “teacher screens’ back in August when her principal, Adam McCormick, spent a weekend making protective screens for Roberts out of a shower curtain and PVC pipe.

Roberts is immunocompromised and in the very high risk category for COVID-19, she was worried about going back to teaching but couldn’t imagine making any other decision.

“I absolutely love what I do,” Roberts said. “I can’t imagine not working with students on a daily basis.”

Now, with the help of the screens, constant masking, sanitation, her own precautions and the people around her, Mrs. Roberts has made it safely through the first semester and is getting ready for another.

“I just can’t brag enough on how conscientious my students were to protect me and mask up when they were in the classroom,” she said.

Roberts said she didn’t know what to expect at the beginning of this semester but is really happy with how everything turned out through the first half of the year.

“I really didn’t think I would make it through the first semester and not get sick, so I am just totally and completely blessed,” she said.

Throughout the pandemic, Roberts said she has only gone three places other than her house: Costco, school and to get her haircut. She has taken every precaution along the way to stay safe.

But, even with these precautions, she’s still teaching more than 100 students each day of the work week. Any of those students could be potentially carrying the virus.

“I’m probably better off running to the grocery store than spending all day every day inside four walls with teenagers,” Roberts said.

She said this a testament to wearing masks and sanitizing.

“I have almost 130 students and I come across a lot of different people everyday who aren’t as careful as I am, but all of us wearing masks has just been a game changer,” she said.

Teacher credits masks with keeping her safe

After they came back from Thanksgiving Beak, Roberts said her and her students stepped up the precautions even more because of a spike in cases in Lincoln County. Fayetteville City Schools took those measures a step further when administrators decided to finish the last few weeks of the semester virtually.

“I love the fact they put the health of the students, teachers and their families first,” she said.

Roberts said a lot of the credit for her staying healthy needs to go to her students. She said there was a never a complaint, they understood what they needed to do and they did it.

“I don’t think we give students nearly enough credit for being willing to buckle down and say, ‘What can we do to make this work?’, because I’ve seen it,” she said.

As for her “teacher screens”, Roberts said they did their job and made her feel a lot safer having an extra piece of protection.

“It was a game changer,” she said.

But, she said she’s still only at the halfway point of this marathon school year and the worst of the pandemic may still be ahead. She hopes everyone will mask up alongside her to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“I am all about taking care of everybody and if that’s an easy thing I can do to keep other people safe then I don’t mind doing it,” she said when asked about wearing a mask. “And for me it’s worked, I didn’t think I would be here and healthy in December without me and mask and my students in a mask all day everyday.”

Fayetteville City School students will start class again on Wednesday, Jan. 6. FCS spokesperson Sandy Williams said the first week will be all virtual, so students won’t return to their actual school buildings until Wednesday, Jan. 13. Both virtual and traditional options will be offered like in the first semester.

Right now, Lincoln County has approximately 460 active cases of COVID-19 and in the last week, just more than 33% of the tests in the county are coming back positive. This data is according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

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