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Survey: COVID-19 leads more Michigan teachers to consider leaving

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Nearly 1 in 3 Michigan educators are considering leaving the profession, with many of them citing the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey done by the Michigan Education Association about reopening K-12 schools.

According to the survey of 15,000 teachers and support staff, 2.2% said they are leaving the profession, 11.8% said they are considering leaving, 4.8% said they are retiring sooner than planned and 11.9% said they are considering retiring sooner than planned.

"That’s thousands of unfilled positions," MEA spokesman Doug Pratt said. “We see pretty high turnover already. COVID-19 is only exacerbating this.”

In the statewide survey, 90.7% of educators agreed that smaller class sizes will be necessary to enforce social distancing and 67.3% said staggered school arrival and/or attendance will be required to enforce social distancing.

About 89.6% in the survey said the state needs to suspend standardized testing and the third-grade reading law until districts can return to normal school operations. 

Paula Herbart, MEA president, said all of the issues facing educators, students and schools underscore the need to prevent budget cuts and for urgent action by Congress to provide funding to help maintain a safe, quality public education.

Michigan school districts are facing an estimated $2.39 billion revenue drop in the current and next year's state school budgets.

"Districts are looking at fund equities and rainy day resources. It's raining like hell out there," Herbart said.

MEA officials said the results from the survey will be shared with the governor’s Return to School Advisory Council to ensure the voices of front-line educators are part of the decisions about how to safely reopen schools for in-person learning.