Story at a glance:
- A surge of COVID-19 outbreaks due to some states banning mask mandates are causing teachers to resign or retire.
- The sudden quitting and retirement of teachers creates a teacher shortage, exacerbating a problem that already existed prior to the pandemic.
- A shortage of specific teachers, such as math or special ed, could add more stress to already filled positions.
Schools reopening are causing teachers to quit or retire because there has been a surge of COVID-19 outbreaks due to some states banning mask mandates.
There have been more than 200,000 reported weekly cases among children in the past five consecutive weeks, The Guardian reported. With some states having no mask mandates and low vaccination rates, the spread of infectious diseases is only made worse.
Things have gotten worse for some schools; several schools and school districts, like Aberdeen School District in Washington state, and Mammoth Unified School District in California, have been forced to shut down in-person learning due to high exposure of COVID-19 or high infection rates.
And while the Burbio’s K-12 School Opening Tracker shows coastal states shutting down their schools for longer periods of time, most of the frequent shutdowns are coming from southern states like Texas and Florida.
The sudden quitting and retirement of teachers creates a teacher shortage, something that was already an existing problem prior to the pandemic.
“A Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) as a subject matter or grade level within a state in which there is an inadequate supply of elementary or secondary teachers. The shortage may be caused by teaching positions that are unfilled or are filled by teachers who have temporary certification or teach in an academic subject other than their area of preparation,” according to Teach.
In Florida, there is a teacher shortage in career and technical education, English as a second language, language arts, math, science and special education.
In New York state, there is a teacher shortage in the following areas: bilingual education (general): all grades, health science: all grades, career and technical education, special education (not bilingual)-middle/secondary grades, special education (bilingual)-all grades, English as a second language: all grades, science: 7th grade and up, social studies: 7th grade and up, and language arts: all grades.
Florida teacher vacancies increased 67 percent in August 2021 compared with August 2020. Teachers like Amanda Tower, an elementary school teacher who recently resigned, wanted her district to have more restrictive COVID-19 safety protocols because the classrooms were tightly packed and poorly ventilated, students were not required to wear masks and often showed up sick, and teachers were receiving significant pushback from science deniers.
“I needed a change for my physical and mental health and that of my family, some of whom have conditions that make them vulnerable to Covid,” Tower told The Guardian. “There was a lack of transparency in the reported numbers and the push to do business as normal. It was all far too much. I did not want to be a martyr. I loved my job. I’ll miss my kids, but I can’t pour from an empty vessel.”
In Providence, R.I., about 10 percent of the city school district quit or retired, according to Fox 12 Providence, a Nexstar-owned station.
In Michigan, about 44 percent of all public schools saw their teachers retiring in the 2019-20 school year, according to The Record Eagle, and in Fort Worth, Texas, there are 314 vacant teacher jobs, The Star Telegram reported. There were only 71 jobs vacant before the pandemic.