Back to School: Educators’ Opinions

As the academic year gets underway in most parts of the country, a recent survey from Education Week shows that teacher morale is at a recent low and that student enrollment is dropping due to COVID-19.

The survey, conducted the last week of August, compiled responses from 826 K-12 educators, a group that included teachers, principals and administrators. Following are the key findings:

  • Since March 2020 teacher morale has plummeted: Teachers reporting low morale have increased from 16% in March to 31% at the end of August.
  • Low morale is impacting retirement plans: 32% of teachers said they are likely to leave their jobs this year due to the pandemic. Also impacting that decision is a heightened risk for COVID-related infections.
  • Administrators report declines in school enrollment across all grades, but particularly for preschool and kindergarten, raising concerns about long-term impacts for students missing foundational skills provided in early education.
  • Although “pandemic pods” have been in the headlines, 1 in 3 educators claimed this survey was the first time they had heard of the practice. (A pandemic pod refers to the practice of privately hiring an instructor to work with multiple families.) A scant 1% have applied to work in such a pod, and only 8% have had any interactions with others regarding the approach. This supports similar findings from a previous EdWeek survey in which only 1% of parents reported plans for their child to participate in a pandemic pod.
  • K-12 educators and parents view academic gains differently since the pandemic: 25% of parents think their children are making progress in core subjects; less than 5% of educators believe that’s the case.
  • 60% of educators want to see students return to school full time and in person, an increase since July when fewer than 50% supported that position. Support for full-time, in-person instruction is stronger in rural areas and towns where more than 2 out of 3 participants favored returning under those circumstances.
  • 85% of survey participants were on-board with student mask wearing for in-person instruction. A mere 2% said that their schools’ safety protocols include testing students.