America’s largest teachers’ union the National Education Association (NEA) has released a new poll that warns about the immense stress being put on educators due to the pandemic.
Notably, 55% of teachers stated that they planned to leave the profession as soon as possible due to the pandemic, up from the 37% who said the same last August.
Essential workers have faced the bulk of burden throughout the past few years, pushing many to exhaustion and increased mental and physical health issues. This has targeted teachers in particular.
According to the NEA, staff shortages have forced educators to expand their services to other areas of schools, such as bus driving, nursing, and cafeteria duties.
Despite distaste with the current atmosphere of the education sector accelerating, data suggests that interest in teaching has fallen for the past decade due to low pay, challenging work conditions, and little to no room for career advancement.
This has only been exacerbated by the ongoing labor shortage and health crisis.
“This is a five-alarm crisis,” said Becky Pringle, President of the NEA. “School staffing shortages are not new, but what we are seeing now is an unprecedented staffing crisis across every job category.”
As a result of the 74% of teachers being stretched thin and filling in for colleagues who are sick, teachers say they are being kept from providing proper support to their students, which in turn hurts their students’ overall wellbeing and development.
The poll also showed that 80% of teachers felt that unfilled job positions had piled on work responsibilities. While a staggering 94% of schools have stayed open for in-person learning, up to one-quarter of students and staff have had to miss school due to Covid.
Teachers have also been clear about what leaders can do to address these ongoing issues: 96% say salaries should be raised, 94% say that students should be given appropriate mental health support, and 93% said hiring processes need to pick up the pace.