To teach, or not to teach? That is the question. Unfortunately, numerous educators have been grappling with this question since the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic and even today because we have lost, and continue to lose many dedicated educators.
Teaching is a career that requires a college education, state exams, and various state requirements depending upon where one teaches. Teachers are on salary, which does not include the excessive amounts of additional time that educators work to ensure they are prepared with engaging and challenging lessons for their students, grading and reviewing student progress, communicating with families, and more. Teaching is a career that one enters when they are passionate about educating our children; it is not about the money. It is a difficult career because it not only includes teaching students during the school day but the numerous expectations and obligations beyond the school day.
During the pandemic, schools across our country closed down, and learning changed from in-person to distance learning without adequate time to make this transition. In some states, a few teacher preparation days were given with the expectation that teachers would quickly learn a completely new way of delivering instruction for their students, how to provide online assignments, grading, and more. Depending upon the state and area, some schools reopened, regardless of the COVID 19 infection rates in the area, no vaccinations available, no masks required, and no social distancing. There was complete and total disregard to what science shared so that schools could open as safely as possible so that students could return to in-person learning. Schools reopened to provide in-person instruction while pretending this pandemic was all over; life is back to normal once again.
Teaching was a career that was in jeopardy of losing more educators while the number of new teachers entering the profession was dwindling before the pandemic. Educators endured numerous challenges prior to this pandemic including numerous hours beyond normal workdays without the adequate cost of living raises. Now our educators must enter classrooms packed full of students, no masks, unclear quarantine expectations, unvaccinated students depending upon the age or that their parents are vaccine-hesitant, and parents threatening. Apparently, it does not matter if our educators contact COVID 19, fall ill, and bring this virus into their homes to infect their families, end up hospitalized or even die. Many parents are fighting tooth and nail against mask mandates claiming that wearing masks are traumatizing their children; meanwhile, many of these same individuals are completely fine with our schools having to hold active shooter drills that traumatize children.
Since this pandemic started, teachers who were eligible to retire did, some who were close to retirement retired early. Some teachers left because they were unable to teach in person due to their health issues, lack of childcare options for their children, or care for elderly parents living in their homes, or overall fear of becoming infected due to the lack of safety protocols that many of our schools failed to provide. Teachers have been leaving the profession in droves, new teachers are not entering and many wonder why. When will things change, and change in the best interest of our children’s education? Teachers work for lower pay in comparison to other careers that have similar requirements; however, should they also be willing to sacrifice their own or their family members' lives for this career?