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Preschool teacher Lainy Morse has been out of work for more than two months. But the Portland, Ore., child care center where she worked is considering a reopening. Morse says she is dreading the idea, as much as she loves the infants and toddlers for which she cared.

“They always have snotty faces. It’s just one cold after another,” she says. “It feels just like an epicenter for spreading disease. And it feels really scary to go back to that.”

In addition to risking infection with COVID-19, going back to work would also mean a cut in pay for Morse. Thanks to the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits the federal government has been offering during the pandemic, Morse and her fellow teachers are making more now than they did on the job.

“It’s terrible to say, but we’re all doing better now,” she says. “It’s hard to think about going back to work in this pandemic and getting paid less than we are right now when we’re safe and at home in quarantine.”

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