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Local Tulsa Teacher Returns From China, Now Quarantined

Posted at 12:22 PM, Feb 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-01 22:05:37-05

TULSA, Okla. — Cathy Essley worked as a Tulsa Public School teacher for years.

Essley took a teaching position in Beijing, July 2018 after teaching in Shanghai three years previously and loved it.

“The opportunity, the salary, the benefits was so amazing," Essley said. "So, I thought I would give it another try.”

Now, Essley is back in Tulsa. she returned on Feb. 14, and she says it wasn't easy leaving.

“It was a tough decision, some of the other teachers who I worked with there from countries around the world, and I debated everyday," Essley said." Should we stay here, should we go home?”

She tells 2 Works for You that all schools in Beijing are closed and have been for the last two weeks.

She had been teaching them online, and she still does every day, beginning at 4 p.m.

“Every day, it was back and forth. I decided it was probably time to go ahead and go home," Essley said. "And let the coronavirus settle down. We will eventually will have to return to finish our school year."

She says her flight options were limited, but she found a flight to South Korea, and then one to the United States.

"When I entered the Beijing airport, they did a temperature check," Essley said. "We signed several forms and then another temperature check before we went in and waited at the gate."

Essley says the entire process was nerve wracking, but she's glad to be home.

"I would rather be quarantined here, than in an apartment in Beijing," Essley said.

The Health Department asked Essley to stay in her home, so friends and family have stepped up to support her.

"It's always nice to see who's going to arrive on my porch, everyday," Essley said. "There is always someone out there. So, that is kind of fun, too."

She hasn't stopped teaching. Her students still learn through online courses because, all schools in China are closed for now.

Essley says she wants everyone to know, she's following the rules.

"I am following my quarantine procedures," Essley said. "I am not leaving the house. So, I will be inside until at least Feb 29, because that is what the health department has required of me."

Essley tells us that Saturday, Feb. 29th was the last mandated quarantine day from the Health Department.

She still plans to self quarantine for a few more days to ease people's minds.

Essley says that people have stopped by her house since she's been cleared of the quarantine, but doesn't plan on going to public places with lots of people until later in the week.

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