A new survey from the National Education Association (NEA) released Monday showed teachers are increasingly likely to say they are feeling too much stress from working during the pandemic.
Fifty-five percent of educators said they are more likely to leave or retire from their jobs sooner than planned because of the pandemic, according to the poll. The NEA said that number is almost double the number of teachers who said the same in a similar poll taken in July 2020.
Teachers aren’t alone in feeling the stress. More than 4.5 million people in the country’s workforce voluntarily resigned from their jobs in one month alone, in November 2021. It’s part of an economic trend that has been dubbed “the Great Resignation,” in which employees are responding to the pandemic, wage stagnation and the rising cost of living by walking away from their jobs.
The NEA is the largest teachers union in the U.S., representing nearly 3 million educators. Its latest survey was conducted by GBAO Strategies, with 3,621 respondents from across the nation.
The poll found that “the Great Resignation” of people in education has also affected those who are still employed in the field.
Eighty percent of the poll respondents reported that unfilled job openings have led to more work obligations for remaining staff members. Seventy-four percent said they’ve had to fill in for colleagues or take on other duties because of staff shortages.
Black and Hispanic educators who participated in the NEA poll were more likely to say they are planning to retire or leave the field early. Sixty-two percent of Black respondents said they are likely to leave their jobs early because of the pandemic, while 59 percent of Latino/Hispanic respondents said the same.
The poll also asked educators about the biggest issues or problems they’ve faced at work during the pandemic. A full 90 percent cited “burnout” as a serious issue for them, with 67 percent calling it a “very serious” issue.
Ninety-one percent of those surveyed said “general stress from the coronavirus pandemic” was a serious issue, including 61 percent who said it was “very serious.”
NEA President Becky Pringle said in a statement that the survey shows that “after persevering through the hardest school years in memory, America’s educators are exhausted and increasingly burned out. School staffing shortages are not new, but what we are seeing now is an unprecedented staffing crisis across every job category.”
She continued, “This crisis is preventing educators from giving their students the one-on-one attention they need. It is forcing them to give up their class planning and lunchtime to fill in for colleagues who are out due to COVID. And, it is preventing students from getting the mental health supports needed.”
Asked about solutions to educator burnout, NEA members in the poll were most likely to support raising educator salaries (96 percent), providing additional mental health support for students (94 percent) and hiring more teachers (93 percent). Other popular responses were hiring more support staff, having fewer paperwork requirements and having less standardized or diagnostic testing.
The poll was conducted from January 14 to 24. The margin of error was 1.6 percentage points.
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