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Stressed teachers dropping out of school over COVID: report

A survey of K-12 public school teachers has shown that many are choosing to leave the profession over the stress caused by COVID.

The RAND Corporation survey of almost 1,000 teachers tried to “understand what is and is not normal about teacher attrition during this highly abnormal pandemic era,” according to the executive summary.

Authors Melissa Diliberti, Heather Schwartz and David Grant “build a profile of teacher leavers, both before and during the pandemic, and examine how the pandemic has influenced teachers’ exits.”

Among their key findings:

Almost half of the public school teachers who voluntarily stopped teaching in public schools after March 2020 and before their scheduled retirement left because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

[T]he COVID-19 pandemic seems to have exacerbated what were high stress levels pre-pandemic by forcing teachers to, among other things, work more hours and navigate an unfamiliar remote environment, often with frequent technical problems.

Stress was the most common reason for leaving public school teaching early—almost twice as common as insufficient pay.

The authors have several recommendations to lure teachers back or stop future attrition. These include more flexibility for teachers and more robust COVID testing to give teachers, and parents, peace of mind.

Read the whole report.

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