1. Are you a teacher?

☐ Yes

You are cleared to enter the building.

☐ Wait, what? Aren’t you going to ask whether I’ve tested positive for COVID-19 in the past ten days?

2. Have you?

☐ I don’t know, there are four-hour waits at all the testing sites within a thirty-mile radius, and the stores have been completely emptied of rapid home tests.

3. Have you tried Amazon? They advertised an off-brand antigen test for $115 online just minutes ago.

☐ Really? I’m checking right now!

☐ iB-Safe Test? I’ve never heard of it, but it’s the only test kit I’ve seen in weeks. I’m going to order a bunch of these.

☐ Just kidding—they’re sold out.

4. That’s a bummer. Well, have you been exposed to anyone else who’s tested positive?

☐ No. I’ve been home caring for my six-year-old, who’s been quarantined for the past ten days due to an exposure in her class. She’s totally fine, by the way. She’s off playing Nintendo Switch while I write two weeks of sub plans for the disgruntled colleagues stuck covering for me.

☐ Yes, I’ve been exposed a minimum of twenty-two times in the past week since Omicron rampaged through my homeroom, and according to their mask-wearing practices, my students think their face starts below their noses.

☐ Yes, I left my house in the past day, so naturally, I’ve been exposed.

5. Do you have symptoms?

☐ Is fatigue a symptom? Because I am very, very tired.

☐ Seriously. My body is breaking down under the unbearable weight of making kids care about state exams that affect their (and my) future, while also dodging an infectious illness.

☐ Updating Google Classroom with a supplemental curriculum for my remote students has left me with a permanent pulsing headache. Does that count?

6. Let’s be clear: Do you have COVID-19 symptoms?

☐ I almost definitely have COVID, but there’s no way to get tested, so.

You are cleared to enter the building.

☐ I just said I probably have COVID. Why are you letting me in the building?

7. Listen, you are an essential worker. If you don’t show up to monitor the sick kids barking around this festering petri dish, their parents won’t be able to work from home, and the whole system will fall apart. You are childcare, an EMT, psychological triage, and a behavioral therapist, with the body of Tom Berenger from The Substitute, the mind of Dustin Hoffman from Outbreak, and the emotional intelligence of Mr. Rogers. If you leave, you will shatter the fragile social-emotional well-being of our nation’s children. Do you want that on your shoulders? Do you???

No. Of course not.

☐ Jesus. My head is really throbbing.

8. Are you a teacher?

☐ Yes, for now.

Great. You are cleared to enter the building.