“People want to get back to work,” she said. “They don't understand that there's other situations besides their own that are much more complicated.”

The nuances of these situations generate lots of tension, Oster said.

“If you send your kids back to school, it’s because you don't care about public health, and if you don't send your kids back to school, it's because you're a paranoid loser,” said Oster, who has two youngsters. “It's dialed up a lot of the judgment, which, of course, doesn't make it any easier to make these decisions.”

‘Already Quarantined’
For Nancy Souza, a 58-year-old special-education teacher from Manteca, California, going back to work has meant socially distancing from her husband, who has brain cancer.

The district has brought teachers back while students attend remotely, since “teachers deserve to have equitable access to their learning environment and all the resources and tools unique to their subject area,” said Victoria Brunn, the district’s community outreach director. Souza’s assistants are required to wear masks and socially distance in the classroom, measures that her husband’s doctor said lowered the risk enough for her to return.

But two weeks ago, an assistant tested positive and they had to self-isolate. Since then, she’s kept away from her husband and slept in a different room. Souza said her principal allowed her to shift to online. Thirty-five others have also been allowed to work from home, Brunn said.

“We didn't even go back to school with students and we are already on quarantine,” Souza said. “If I can't even go to school with adults using precautions, then how am I supposed to be able do that with 16 students?”

This story was provided by Bloomberg News.

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