As many American schools plan to resume classes soon, teachers are trying to decide whether or not to return to classrooms. That implies that there are only two groups of teachers regarding this issue – those who will go back, and those who will not. But in reality, a number of factors are at play as American schools reorganize in new ways.
President Trump has been encouraging American schools to reopen. But as teachers make their decision, teachers are considering factors that include:
- Their age, since older people are more likely to become seriously ill from the virus. Also, some teachers who are edging toward retirement anyway are deciding that this would be a good time to quit the profession.
- Any ongoing health concerns that could make them especially vulnerable.
- The presence of children or elders in their homes who could be exposed to the virus if teachers in the household bring it home from school.
- The range of teaching situations that school systems are making available to students who decide to consider taking classes from home.
- Demands and requirements imposed by the schools and/or school systems where the teachers are employed.
- Policies for social distancing and other protections that will be practiced in the schools that are opening up again.
Will You Lose Your Job If You Decide Not to Return?
Because both private and public schools are making their own decisions regarding teachers’ employment, there is no one answer to that question. But if you are a teacher who is trying to navigate this particularly troubling decision, here are some recommendations.
- Find ways to communicate and connect with other local teachers. You can, of course, meet virtually with other local educators to share news and solutions to the issues you are facing.
- Also connect with other teachers online. There are many options. One is to follow #14daysnonewcases, a Twitter group where educators share news and concerns.
- Get involved with your teacher’s union if you are not already. The website of the United Teachers Union of Los Angeles (UTLA), for example, offers a wide range of resources for teachers who are weighing whether or not to return to work.
- Speak with an attorney who specializes in employment law. Although you want to cooperate with fellow teachers and negotiate as a group with your school or board of education, you might also consider your need to protect yourself, your family, your income, and more. If you search online for employment attorneys in your area, you will find some. Many of them offer complimentary or low-cost initial consultations where you can explain the issues you are facing and gain some expert perspective.
- Consider whether you want to return to teaching. Most teachers do. They are dedicated professionals. Yet experienced teachers can often use their prior experience to enter new careers as test prep tutors, college essay coaches, college admissions consultants, corporate trainers, and more. The current crisis – and “crisis” is the right word for it – could serve as a catalyst to enter a new field.
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Students who participate in the National Career & College Pathway Study will gain new insights about making educational decisions that align with their interests, passions, and aptitudes. Participants will receive information on college and career opportunities that match their interests.