Story at a glance

  • There is a nationwide teacher shortage that’s prompting schools across the country to cancel classes.
  • Schools in Seattle and Denver both announced this week they would have to close because they didn’t have enough teachers available to keep schools open.
  • One survey found that nearly one in four teachers said that they were likely to leave their jobs by the end of the 2020-2021 school year

Schools in Denver and Seattle are being forced to close this week because of staffing shortages, highlighting the ongoing national employment crisis.

Denver Public Schools (DPS) announced three of its schools would be cancelling classes this week, according to The Denver Post. While in Washington, Bellevue and Seattle schools made similar announcements cancelling classes.

School districts from both states cited staffing problems, with Seattle Public Schools (SPS) releasing a statement that said, “we are aware of a larger than normal number of SPS staff taking leave on Friday, and do not believe we have adequate personnel to open schools.”

SPS confirmed it will close schools on Thursday and Friday of this week. 


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The Seattle Education Association (SEA) said its class cancellations were due to a statewide shortage of substitute teachers and that COVID-19 has made it more difficult to fill those vacancies, according to the Seattle Times.

“Educators are stretching themselves to the limit to provide COVID-safe, quality services and learning for all of our students but we cannot succeed without adequate support,” said the SEA in a statement.

In Denver, three school districts said they would also be closing due to staffing shortages, with The Post reporting that schools could not find enough substitute teachers and other staff to keep schools open.

Will Jones, spokesman for DPS, told The Post that, “We are doing everything in our power to keep our schools open and to maximize in-person learning opportunities for our students. At the same time, we are facing a critical staffing shortage, like districts across the country, that impacts our ability to safely operate our schools.” 

The National Education Association (NEA) found in a June survey that among its members, 32 percent said the pandemic had led them to plan to leave teaching earlier than they anticipated. The RAND Corporation also found that nearly one in four teachers said that they were likely to leave their jobs by the end of the 2020-2021 school year. 

Teacher shortages have been a long-standing problem in the U.S. that’s now been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Teachers are faced with changing mask and vaccine mandates in schools, all while bearing the responsibility of showing up for students. 

Becky Pringle, president of NEA, said in a statement that, “We face a looming crisis in losing educators at a time when our students need them most. This is a serious problem with potential effects for generations."


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Published on Nov 10, 2021