Former Omaha Education Association president, OPS teacher retires early due to COVID worries

Inside of an OPS classroom, July 29, 2020
Inside of an OPS classroom, July 29, 2020(Roger Hamer)
Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 4:47 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - When OPS students return to school this year, some of the teachers they expect to see in the classroom won’t be there.

Not only is COVID-19 changing the way students return to school, but it’s also changing who will be in front of the classroom when schools open.

The Omaha Education Association worries about losing a lot of teaching experience because of cCOVID-19.

Bridget Donovan has been a teacher for 33 years, 26 of those years with OPS.

Bridget won’t return to the classroom this year, the elementary school teacher decided to retire early.

“The more I read about COVID, the more I realized what a challenge it was going to be for schools and the fact that I do have preexisting conditions, I pretty reluctantly decided that I needed to retire. That I didn’t want to take the risk of getting sick and possibly passing it to the people I loved,” said Donovan.

Bridget says it was a very hard decision, she loved working in the classroom, and not only did the threat of the virus cut her career short it also cost her financially, missing out on a small annuity.

“I’m one full teaching year away from it but in weighing it, it’s not worth the risk,” said Donovan.

Bridget says she knows a lot of teachers who have quit or retired early. Bridget believes OPS has one of the better plans to return to school, but with the recent uptick in COVID cases in our area, she thinks officials should rethink that plan.

“I don’t think that putting students together with teachers is going to be a good idea,” said Donovan.

Bridget once served as President of The Omaha Education Association and was very outspoken on a number of issues that supported teachers. She doesn’t believe OPS teachers have a true voice in the plan to return to the classroom.

“I feel frustration because I so much believe that teacher’s voices are valuable and it’s frustrating to not be able to hear what they’re thinking, to what they’re genuinely thinking,” said Donovan.

A lot of experience will be missing from the front of some classrooms this year because there are teachers who made the tough decision to be safe and stay home.  

Bridgett says one of the worse things about her early retirement, she didn’t get to say goodbye to her students.

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