Dec 18, 2020 - Health

Teachers brace for tense, stressful 2021

Illustration of a teacher carrying a giant apple on their back.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A perfect storm of quarantines, layoffs, retirements and resignations has public schools scrambling to get enough bodies to keep school afloat next semester.

Why it matters: Districts are desperate to keep classes going and are stretched thin by the sometimes competing needs of in-person and distance learning.

  • Public-school employment in November was down 8.7% from February, and at its lowest level since 2000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some schools are even considering allowing COVID-positive, asymptomatic teachers to continue working, the Wall Street Journal reports.

  • Many are also aggressively recruiting substitute teachers, offering bonuses and waiving certification requirements, per AP.

Between the lines: Many states still haven't figured out where educators and school personnel should fit in the priority list for COVID vaccines.

In Washington, D.C.: A union agreement says teachers may be required to return to classrooms unless they have medical exemptions.

  • In Indiana and Connecticut, college students are answering the call to substitute teach and could be paid to help supervise classrooms.

The bottom line: The nationwide teacher shortage has left nothing but teachers with burnout, frustrated parents and even a lower education quality.

Go deeper: America's teachers are running on empty

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