Math teacher tests positive for COVID-19

A middle-school teacher Jill Whitacre was sent home on Oct. 1 to quarantine due to COVID-19 symptoms and later tested positive for the coronavirus, making her the first West Shore teacher to contract the virus.

“I began to feel sick on Wednesday in the middle of the night. I kept waking up with joint pain and and body aches,” math and robotics teacher Jill Whitacre said. “I thought I would feel better, so I got dressed and went to school but I continued to feel worse and felt like I had a fever.”

After not feeling better, she left school.

“I didn’t want to infect anyone at school so I called administration and let them know I needed a sub and that I was going to get a COVID test. I had the worst headache I think I’ve ever had, a sore throat, nausea and chills,” Whitacre said.

COVID symptoms and severity can differ, according to health experts.

“For me, the fatigue and body aches are the hardest part,” Whitacre said. “No matter how much I sleep, I don’t have the energy to do anything.” 

Even if her symptoms were to subside, Whitacre would still have to stay home for 14 days.

“Any time a teacher or any student shows any type of symptoms, to be prudent and safe, we quarantine them for 14 days,” Principal Rick Fleming said. “Any student that was within six feet or less for more than 15 minutes automatically has to be quarantined if it’s a positive case.” 

Fleming said school administrators are taking other steps to keep the school as safe as possible.

“The bathroom is closed because the teacher that was sent home used that bathroom, but that’s only for 24 hours until we can disinfect it,” Fleming said.

Whitacre said she weighed the health risks before returning to work in August during a pandemic.

“I knew that there was a greater risk of me catching the virus due to my age and being a cancer survivor, but there wasn’t a choice if I wanted to keep my job as a teacher,” she said. “I love teaching and I love my students so I did everything I could to protect myself and them and hoped for the best.” 

By Lauren Mannix