Learning Curve: Some Teachers Won't Return to School

Schools around the country and here in Texas have begun making plans for reopening classrooms by this fall, months after the coronavirus pandemic forced campuses closed. But even if schools open their doors, not all students and teachers will be back. Some families are considering sticking with homeschooling, while many teachers are still skittish about returning to the classroom. A new USA Today/Ipsos survey finds 1 in 5 teachers are unlikely to return if their schools reopen this fall.

Zeph Capo with the Houston Federation of Teachers is not surprised at the survey, considering the makeup of the teaching workforce. "Most of the faculty, particularly in the urban school districts, consists of either a majority of new teachers with five years or less experience, or teachers that are at or near retirement age," he tells KTRH.

In particular, Capo notes many older teachers are considering retirement. "If we have a significant number of teachers that are retirement-eligible decide not to come back, then we could have a real problem with having certified teachers in our classrooms," he says. "We already have a massive problem staffing our classrooms...this could be a real issue in the fall, if they do decide they're not gonna come back."

But not all teachers feel that way. Capo reports hearing from many teachers who are "chomping at the bit" to get back in the classroom, with a lot of them frustrated over remote learning. Indeed, 83% of teachers in the USA Today/Ipsos survey said teaching remotely has made their job harder.

Plans for reopening are far from finalized in Houston, but Capo pledges they'll continue to get input from both teachers and parents about how to do it. "We must concentrate on how do we make it as safe as possible to return, or when we do return, ensuring that we're making it as safe as possible for the people who are there," he says.

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