Guest op-ed from Jeremy Dumkreiger, an educator in Sioux City.
A colleague and I started Iowa Educators for a Safe Return to School to allow educators in Iowa to discuss the lack of guidance from Gov. Kim Reynolds and her administration. That group quickly grew to over 16,000 members, which now includes both educators and parents.
Today, our group is asking teachers across Iowa to prepare their obituaries in advance of the 2020-2021 school year to demand Gov. Reynolds declare a statewide school mask mandate.
Wearing masks and/or face shields is the best way for schools to decrease the chance of COVID-19 from spreading from students to teachers and vice versa. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield has said that if Americans “wore a mask for the next six weeks, we could drive this virus into the ground.” If we do not require this mask mandate, we risk the chance of driving our teachers and schools into the ground, literally.
Teachers, we are asking you to write your obituaries and send them to the office of the Governor. You cannot email the Governor directly, but you can email her closest aides, Chief of Staff Sara Craig and Deputy Chief of Staff Paige Thorson. Gov. Reynolds will get the message.
Lastly, post your obituary all over social media. Please use the disclaimer so no one actually thinks you have passed away and be warned, this is an emotional exercise. Thank you for your participation.
The following is my own.
DISCLAIMER – Much to the chagrin of some, I am not dead. I have prepared my obituary and am sending it to Gov. Kim Reynolds to express my concern regarding the absence of a statewide mask mandate for our schools. If you are a teacher, please join in this protest by crafting your obituary. Please omit any information you feel uncomfortable sharing. Thank you. Please send copies to Sara.Craig@iowa.gov, Paige.Thorson@iowa.gov, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. Again, I’m not dead.
Jeremy Dumkrieger, 43, passed away on [insert Date here] due to complications arising from COVID-19. He died alone, isolated from the family who meant the world to him.
[Services to be announced – insert here – will include music from Boyz II Men ]
Jeremy was born on August –, 19– in Onawa, IA to Marcia Dumkrieger and Fred Dumkrieger of Soldier, IA. Marcia is a medical transcriptionist and Fred is a retired farmer and machinist.
Jeremy graduated from the East Monona Community School District after having spent his entire schooling in the same building in Moorhead, Iowa. He graduated from Morningside College in 2000 and returned in 2007 to obtain his certification to teach TK-12 grade Art.
He was married to Tisha, whom if her feet had been warmer would have been perfect to him. He met her at Perkins Restaurant and later asked her to marry him with a ring in his hand surrounded by the glow of dozens of lighting bugs. They shared a love of John Mayer and sitting close at the movies. He adored her hamburger soup. His only regret in life was not meeting her sooner, frozen feet and all.
After their marriage, Tisha’s children soon became his own. Bernadette was his great joy. He loved her goofy free spirit and encyclopedic knowledge of everything. He often spoiled her with Littlest Pet Shops Toys and later beef jerky. She was the kindest person he knew. Tristan and Jeremy shared a love of Nightmare on Elm Street and singing when everyone in the house just wanted them to stop. Jeremy loved to embarrass Tristan and Tristan loved to scare Jeremy. Tristan was the bravest kid he knew even though had yet to learn it. Jeremy loved a wiener dog named Steve. Steve connected their family long before the marriage and adoption; Jeremy was grateful to him for it.
Jeremy worked as an art teacher for 6 years. His students called him Mr. D because they thought saying it out loud was a bad word. He loved getting drawings as gifts; especially if they were portraits of Mr. D. It wasn’t a job to Jeremy; he often joked he was the smartest teacher in the building because he got paid the same as the math teacher and they had to do Algebra all day while he got to play with clay. It was a dream job for Jeremy; it fulfilled him.
Jeremy’s proudest moment took place in 2018 when his family witnessed him be inducted into the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame. With his family looking on, Jeremy told the crowd during the induction to “Always work like your life depends on it – because while yours may not, someone’s life does. Someday yours may depend on it too.” Turns out, Jeremy’s life depended on it.
He is preceded in death by his Grandparents, Duane and Nilmah Thomson, and Floyd and Irene Dumkrieger.
He is survived by his parents, Marcia and Fred Dumkrieger, his brother — and his wife — and their kids ——-, ——, and ——–.
by Jeremy Dumkrieger
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