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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The pandemic has pushed teachers out of the workforce in droves, and many schools don't have a strong safety net to fill the gaps as children come back into classrooms.

Why it matters: Teaching has been one of the toughest pandemic-era jobs, with pivots to remote learning and then risk of infection with school reopenings.

  • Teacher retirements are up 44% in Michigan since August, Chalkbeat in Detroit reports. “The pandemic is a game-changer. I think there’s going to be record retirements," Dwight Pierson, a high school teacher in St. Johns, Michigan, told Chalkbeat.
  • Long Beach Unified, one of the largest school districts in California, saw teacher leaves of absences spike by 35% this year, per EdSurge.

There's also no safety net, with substitute teacher shortfalls in many districts.

  • 73% of districts said their need for substitute teachers was more dire in 2020 than in 2019, per a recent Education Week survey of principals and school administrators. And 74% said the number of applicants for sub positions dropped.
  • Case in point: Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia, which is one of the country's largest districts, with about 178,000 students, is dealing with a 30% drop in the number of available subs, according to the New York Times.

What to watch: Schools are hiring. While many industries are still recovering from the initial pandemic crash, job openings for teachers are actually 2% higher than pre-pandemic levels, AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at the jobs site Indeed, tells Axios.

Go deeper: America's massive teacher shortfall is stunting student learning

Go deeper

Apr 4, 2021 - Health

America's 2nd COVID-19 Easter marked by low church attendance

A girl celebrates Easter in Saint Patrick's Cathedral on April 4, 2021 in New York City. Photo: Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

A new Pew Research survey found that only 27% of adults in the U.S. planned on attending an in-person Easter service this year, a 17 point drop from a group that otherwise would have reported 44% church attendance, NBC News reports.

Why it matters: Although the U.S. has ramped up its vaccination rates and many states are preparing for reopening, rituals of normal life—including religious holiday celebrations—continue to be hobbled by the pandemic.

Apr 4, 2021 - Health

Infectious diseases expert: U.S. is "at the beginning" of a fourth COVID-19 surge

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, warned on Sunday that the U.S. is at the precipice of a fourth surge of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Data shows the U.S. may be at the start of a fourth wave that would foster the growth of new variants, which would likely be less susceptible to existing vaccines. A fourth surge would almost certainly be less deadly than the previous three, thanks to widespread vaccination of the elderly.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker