Texas teachers can expect to spend some time in classrooms in the upcoming school year, but much about the school year is unclear since the Texas Education Agency has not released guidelines for teaching and safety as the pandemic continues. What’s also unclear is how many teachers have decided to retire rather than head back to the classroom and face COVID-19.
“We have heard from some of our members who have indicated they will retire rather than risk their health if schools reopen too soon,” said Texas State Teachers Association spokesman Clay Robison.
Robison didn’t have a number, but said, “judging from responses from TSTA members alone, there may be a significant number of teachers considering retirement as an option. Many teachers also have underlying health conditions that make it riskier for them to return to their schools.”
Zeph Capo, president of the Texas American Federation of Teachers, has heard the same concerns.
“Unfortunately, COVID is causing a lot of disruption and painful decisions for students and teachers. Out of concern for their own health, we know that a lot of older teachers are planning to retire early,” he said. “It’s really a shame because experience is an asset in teaching and veteran teachers not only bring a wealth of knowledge about pedagogy and subject matter into the classroom, but they are terrific mentors to new teachers.”
Capo worries a rash of retirements and loss of experience will make it even less likely districts will work to improve student achievement and workplace conditions. He says COVID-19 is the last straw and some great teachers are saying they’ve had enough.
So far, the Teacher Retirement System of Texas has not seen an increase in retirements for fiscal year 2020, which concludes at the end of August. In fact, retirements are down by 3,531, or almost 14%.
“It is too early to project retirements for FY21,” Kaylee Nemec, a communications specialist at TRS, said in a statement.
The TRS statistics include all system retirements, not solely teachers. They also include pending retirements, which means that not all the paperwork has been completed.
“TRS does have early-age retirements each year; however, we are unable to determine if the early-age retirements in FY20 are specifically a result of the pandemic,” Nemec added.Here’s more coverage on a possible teacher strike and education this fall — in classrooms and virtually.