JAMESTOWN, N.Y. — Years from now, the COVID-19 pandemic will be talked about in history classes, but Jamestown teacher Michael Tuccio thinks it's important for all of us to recognize the work and sacrifices of frontline workers now.
In March, he, his students and his family wrote letters to local hospital workers, and they started getting responses back.
"I talked with a couple and told them if you'd ever want to tell your story, I would be glad to hear it," said Tuccio, a social studies teacher for Jamestown Public Schools.
He posted on Facebook, asking people if they wanted to be interviewed. The post was shared more than 100 times.
Tuccio talked to some by phone but soon realized it would be too time-consuming to interview each person individually, so he made a questionnaire for them to fill out. He took their answers and compiled them in an online document, called "Corona Heroes: Stories from the Frontlines of COVID-19."
"I think I just gravitated toward the health care [workers]. I knew people who were nurses and working in hospitals, technicians and radiologists," said Tuccio. "They live with every death. They live with every sad case. They wear it on their sleeves, and they carry it in their hearts."
Tuccio either interviewed or got a response from almost three dozen frontline workers in seven different states — some he knew. Others were complete strangers who wanted to share their stories.
"The people who took part in the project are very appreciative for the attention it has gotten," said Tuccio. "They didn't ask to be heroes. Most don't. People who usually end up heroes are thrown into circumstances. They want respect, and they want people to do their part to stay safe because that keeps them safe."
The stories explain what it's like working during a pandemic. People shared heartbreaking tales of COVID patients dying alone and inspiring stories of hospital staff coming together during tough times to save lives.
Right now the compilation of stories is just in an online document, which you can view by clicking here.
Tuccio said he'd like to see the project continue in some way. A former student has expressed an interest in taking over.