Q&A: Sanford takes a leave of absence

IB Biology teacher Sarah Sanford is taking a leave of absence due to the pandemic


Photo A. Crews

This pre-COVID picture displays Sanford standing proudly in her classroom.

Ella Wertz, News and Features Editor

COVID-19 has forced many people to make many life altering decisions, including SL IB Biology teacher Sarah Sanford. Sanford has decided to take a leave of absence from Robinson High School to ensure her and her family’s safety during the pandemic. RHSToday interviewed Sanford to take a deeper look into her COVID story and the pressing circumstances that led to her taking some time off.

Q: What prompted your decision to take a leave of absence?

A: “So, we know COVID is passed from person to person by touching contaminated surfaces, and through the air (this is why we wear masks to prevent spread). When a community has more than a 5% positivity rate (meaning of all people tested in the community on a given day 5% or more test positive for COVID for the first time), that means that there is enough of the virus around to make contact tracing difficult. The virus is likely in public places where lots people move through, making it hard to trace infected people. When the community has LESS than 5% positivity rate, contact tracing becomes more effective, and the virus is less likely to be found in public places. My daughter has asthma, an underlying condition that puts her at risk of experiencing severe complications to COVID including death, so we put her in eLearning for the semester. Our administration at Robinson has done absolutely everything they can to keep student numbers in my classes low through hybrid learning. However, when it comes down to it, I just wasn’t comfortable knowing that I was potentially putting my daughter’s life at risk simply by coming to work everyday. If she got sick or died, I don’t think I could live with the knowledge that I could have prevented it.”

Q: Are you planning to stay connected to your students? If so, how?

A: “Despite my leave, I’m still providing lessons to my students through live Zooms, Edpuzzle, Canvas, and other technological means. I’m still working, I’m just not getting paid! I made my peace with that, because my students deserve to have the full support of teacher that knows them and cares about them. None of this is their fault.”

Q: What does this mean for your position at Robinson when you return to school?

A: “Hopefully not too much. I plan on being back as soon as our % positive rate stays below 5% for 14 days or more. That could be two weeks from now, or January. It depends on how serious the public takes social distancing practices. Recent plans to cut teaching positions make me nervous, but that’s out of my hands at the moment.”

Q: What are your plans during your leave of absence?

A: “WORK! I still have lessons and lectures to record, grading, IAs, EEs, ALL OF IT!! And I help my daughter with her eLearning too. She’s in fourth grade and still needs support and supervision to make sure she’s doing things properly.”

Q: Do you have any final wishes or words for you students?

A: “Final? NO! I’m coming back! But I DO have some thoughts. Remember, times are tough for lots of people in lots of different ways right now. Do your best to keep your head up, and help each other out. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Robinson is a family, that’s the thing I miss most. We *all* need to do our best to stay #UKNIGHTED no matter where we are.”