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


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 current and former students of Dragoo’s were able to help put her at mind at ease, at least a little bit. The students pooled money together to get 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 that just a mask or faceshield. 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 special equipment retails for $379 on Vyzr’s website.

Even with the new PPE, Dragoo said she’s still going to be careful until she’s fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 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 AISD teachers.

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

Dragoo planned on getting the vaccine at last check, but she still had to consult her doctors.

In the meantime, Dragoo said she 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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