Students buy specialized shield for Texas teacher at high risk for COVID-19

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin High School teacher Annie Dragoo is dealing with multiple health issues that make her at high risk for severe COVID-19 complications. After being denied a medical accommodation for the upcoming semester, she has been worried about returning to the classroom.

“I am having to choose between getting really sick and my job,” Dragoo said. She is currently receiving cancer treatment and has chronic heart failure, and doctors told her that COVID-19 is a disease “she cannot get.”

Some of Dragoo’s current and former students were able to help put her mind at ease, at least a little bit. The students pooled their money to buy Dragoo a special piece of personal protective equipment to help her feel safer in the classroom.

“It looks like I am going to be walking in space,” Dragoo said, describing her new gear. “I feel safer wearing that, but I am still going to be very careful.”

It’s a BioVyzr air-purifying shield from Vyzr Technologies, and at its most basic level, it will offer more protection than just a mask or face shield. Perhaps the best thing it can offer Dragoo is peace of mind so she can focus on doing what she loves — teaching her students.

The equipment retails for $379 on Vyzr’s website.

Dragoo plans on getting the vaccine, but still has to consult her doctors. She said the district notified her about having doses of the vaccine available since she’s considered to be at high risk.

She was granted a medical accommodation to teach remotely in the fall but was denied one for the upcoming spring semester, like more than a thousand other Austin teachers.

“If you are high risk enough to get the vaccine, you are high risk enough to teach from home,” Dragoo said.

In the meantime, she has made arrangements in the event of a worst-case scenario.

“I have updated my will. It sounds horrible, but that is what we have done,” Dragoo said.

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