Some Teachers Choose Not to Return Come Fall

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As the state offered new guidance allowing for a delayed start to the school year, some teachers say they still have concerns about the uncertainties surrounding a return to the classroom.

Elementary school teacher Amanda Cox said after five years teaching North Texas first and second graders, she’s leaving her job.

“I definitely want to be back but I just don’t see how it can be done safely,” Cox said

She said there are still too many unanswered questions including what happens if a student or teacher gets sick.

She also worries about her little ones keeping their masks on and abiding by social distancing protocol.

"There's not a good way to have that six feet. You know, they're very hands-on. They like to hug. They like to hold hands with their friends,” said Cox.

That’s why she said she’s leaving behind the benefits and insurance that came with employment and searching for one or two families looking to hire a tutor to help their kids get through another semester of virtual learning.

“I’m not having to increase my risk and they’re not having to increase their risk by sending their students to school,” said Cox.

According to the Texas Classroom Teachers’ Association, moves like Cox’s are one of several alternatives teachers are considering.

“It’s really kind of the wild west right now, and we believe part of that is that we don’t have clear guidance from the state on how this is going to work,” said Director of Development and Advocacy Holly Eaton. “People really feel like they’re being left to their own devices to figure this out.” 

Though they don’t yet have numbers, Eaton said they’ve heard from several members considering early retirement or leaving the profession.

She believes it's justified.

She pointed to research from the Kaiser Family Foundation estimating one in four teachers are at a greater risk of serious illness if infected with COVID-19 due to conditions outlined by the CDC.

Eaton said TCTA is asking the state for a protocol that would make remote jobs available with a priority for those teachers. She said they’d also like to see limits on how many students are able to return for in-person education to allow for social distancing in schools.

Otherwise, she fears the profession could lose some of its best.

“It shouldn’t need to be that way. I think, again, if there were more clarity, if educators knew going into this school year they would actually be able to offer remote instruction than they wouldn’t be forced into these situations,” said Eaton.

Cox said she continues to search for jobs that would allow her to teach solely virtually.

Otherwise, she’s hopeful parents will also be seeking alternatives like private tutors.

“It’s going to be really hard, but I think it’s best to make that choice right now,” said Cox.

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