KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Victoria Love started substituting in Knox County Schools six years ago.
"I believe it was March of 2014," she said. "I've subbed from elementary school all the way to high school."
She said she has done it for so long because it was a good option for her family.
"I really like it because I have two kids so if one of them is sick I can stay home," Love said.
But when the realities of COVID-19 set in she said she chose not to come back.
"It was just the best decision for all of us," she said.
She has a 2nd grader in virtual school and a 3-year-old. Both have asthma.
"With their lungs being so weak already it is definitely something I do not want to risk," she said.
Love is one of many subs who say they had to make a tough decision this year and with the KCS asking for more people to apply to sub more may have to decide too.
"I know they are struggling," Love said.
According to the system COVID-19 dashboard there are now 89 staff members and 573 students in isolation/quarantine and substitute availability is the only metric that's on red so far.
Love said while she knows several teachers and subs who are in the classroom she also knows plenty who made the same decision she did. In the end she said educators are doing what they can.
"Do what's best for their kids, do what's best for their families," she said.
Jane Skinner worked for the Knox County Schools 27 years, she retired in December 2018. She started subbing got the system last year and is still on the Sub list but said she does not plan to go back yet because she is worried about her own health.
"I cannot afford to put my life at risk," she said.
She said when she started to see what what being offered to subs for the year it made her think of educators who were already in the classroom.
"When I got the call that they were giving more money to subs, I thought they should give that to the teachers," she said.
Though she does not plan to head back anytime soon, she said she is still fighting on behalf of educators who couldn't do the same and wants to see more be done for those who are on the front lines.
"I think those in the central office should help fill in one day a week so we can save money and help out teachers out," Skinner said.