PHOENIX — Arizona had a certified teacher shortage long before the coronavirus pandemic, but there are signs that the pandemic has caused hundreds of teachers to flee the classroom this year.
Since the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, at least 751 teachers have resigned or quit, according to the Arizona Schools Personnel Administrators Association.
More than half of those teachers blame the pandemic. The survey one year ago showed 427 teachers had left the classroom.
The statistics are conservative estimates because not all school districts participate in the survey.
“We can’t ignore we are teaching in a pandemic. We are crisis teaching our students right now,” said Joe Thomas of the Arizona Educators Association.
Thomas predicts winter break will mark a decision point for more teachers if Gov. Doug Ducey doesn’t create statewide policies for schools.
Right now, many school districts require teachers to be in the classroom.
“We will absolutely see an increasing number of teacher resignations, of principals that resign, bus drivers, nurses,” Thomas said.
Sixth-grade teacher Tracy Silva realized she couldn’t take chances of being exposed to the coronavirus every day because her husband has valley fever and diabetes. She made the decision before the school year began to leave the Chandler Unified School District.
“You don’t know what you’re dealing with. You don’t know how wide the circle is,” Silva said.
She now works as a tutor for an out-of-state online school.
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