For many around the country, the new school year has already begun. And many districts are pushing forward with in-person schooling, even though we are in the midst of another COVID-19 spike, with new cases around the country rising to their highest point since January. Large swathes of the population are still unvaccinated, including 50 million children nationwide under the age of 12. Combined with the fact that vaccine and mask mandates have become another contentious subject of culture war hysteria and with the more contagious Delta variant causing a critical mass of new hospitalizations, school districts around the country appear to be on yet another collision course with COVID-19 that will likely lead to panicked returns to remote learning.

This week on Working People, we talk with Casey Scully, a former elementary school teacher and current high school math interventionist in Charleston, South Carolina—a state that is second only to Tennessee in terms of new COVID-19 cases. We discuss the path that led Casey to become an educator, how she has navigated the past year and a half, and what she and her coworkers are currently experiencing with schools reopening.

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Featured Music (all songs sourced from the Free Music Archive:

  • Jules Taylor, “Working People Theme Song
  • Jules Taylor, “Carolina King”

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Ten years ago, I was working 12-hour days as a warehouse temp in Southern California while my family, like millions of others, struggled to stay afloat in the wake of the Great Recession. Eventually, we lost everything, including the house I grew up in. It was in the years that followed, when hope seemed irrevocably lost and help from above seemed impossibly absent, that I realized the life-saving importance of everyday workers coming together, sharing our stories, showing our scars, and reminding one another that we are not alone. Since then, from starting the podcast Working People—where I interview workers about their lives, jobs, dreams, and struggles—to working as Associate Editor at the Chronicle Review and now as Editor-in-Chief at The Real News Network, I have dedicated my life to lifting up the voices and honoring the humanity of our fellow workers.
Follow: @maximillian_alv