Public schools in Los Angeles are set to resume in-person classes for students with special needs next week after almost a full year of distance learning. Officials are in talks with the teachers union to work out a broader school reopening.
Around the country such discussions have gotten tense, putting teachers at the center of a heated debate. A new report from the Rand Corporation shows the toll stress takes on those in the profession, and how the pandemic has made things worse.
Annie Tan has always considered her job as a special education teacher in New York City high stress. Even before the pandemic, she constantly felt like she was making up for limited resources with her own money and time.
“I remember getting kicked out at 9:30 p.m. by the custodian, and then I come back at like 7:30 the next day to go teach,” Tan said.
The job was also emotionally demanding.
“We’re school counselors, we’re nurses, we’re all of these roles,” she said.
The Rand survey found stress was the leading cause of teachers leaving the profession before the pandemic — a bigger issue than pay. And COVID has only made things worse, said Rand researcher Heather Schwartz.
“I do think that these data point to the need to really take seriously how stressful this job appears to be and to find ways to help reduce that stress,” Schwartz said.