Union County teacher resigns over school district’s controversial COVID protocols

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — A former Union County teacher opened up to Channel 9 about her decision to resign over the school district’s controversial COVID-19 protocols.

Teacher Amy Vitulli, who is also a mom, has worked in education for 15 years, spending most of that time as a band teacher at Piedmont Middle School.

She said she had to have a tough conversation with her husband about their own family after a motion to mandate masks inside district schools was struck down during a board of education meeting last Tuesday. The decision was made despite thousands of staff and students in quarantine at the time.

“We have teachers that are in the hospital right now,” Vitulli said. “We have kids that are home sick. We have kids who have lost family members. I have lost a family member to COVID and we’re just saying, ‘Eh, it’s no big deal.’ It’s not OK, it’s scary.’”

Several days later, the district voted to end COVID-19 contact tracing and quarantining for non-positive students and staff.

“If they say they’re not doing contact tracing, they’re not doing masks, they’re not doing any of this stuff, that’s a risk to my kids,” Vitulli said. “My kids can’t be vaccinated and they’re taking that choice away from my family and away from me to be able to protect my kids.”

Vitulli said if they had just kept the quarantine policy as is or done away with it, but required masks, she would’ve stayed, but that’s not what happened, so she resigned.

“It was heartbreaking, I still am feeling a little teary eyed just talking about it, because it’s been my passion,” she said. “I went into college to be a band director. I have spent my whole life wanting to be that teacher for a kid, and that’s being taken away from me so it’s hard and it was really hard to tell my kids and watch my kids cry.”

Vitulli said she’s worried for her former students and colleagues.

“I’m afraid, and again this may sound dramatic, but I am afraid that the next time I see some of these people will be at their funeral,” she said. “These people that have been there for me, and they can’t get out they don’t have the privilege that I have to say I can’t do this anymore. They have to be there or their family doesn’t eat, they have to be there or they’re homeless.”

Children account for nearly 30% of all new COVID cases, officials say

Doctors across the country are treating more kids for COVID-19.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly half a million children tested positive in the past two weeks -- that’s about a 240% increase since early July. Kids reportedly account for nearly 30% of all new cases in the United States.

Novant Health doctors told Channel 9 that 25% of the cases they’re treating are kids.

“Masking and social distancing is a proven method,” Novant pediatrician Dr. Eugene Daugherty said. “Strange time to abandon things that have proven effective.

Daugherty said their emergency room is near capacity right now.

(WATCH BELOW: Children account for nearly 30% of all new COVID cases, officials say)

“If this continues it could be difficult to care for patients -- downstream effects,” he said. “I’m very concerned.”

According to health officials, they’re also starting to see more cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children.

MIS-C usually shows up several weeks after COVID infection and some kids may not even know they had COVID because they are asymptomatic.

(WATCH: Union County health director sends letter to school district recommending masks be required)