FORT MYERS, Fla. — After a grueling school year during the pandemic, schools in Southwest Florida are once again just weeks away from the start of a new year.
While our schools are promised a return to what should be a more normal year, the pandemic has still left its mark on our teachers.
Dr. Beth Elliott who is the department chair for teacher education at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), says this past year discouraged a lot of students from becoming teachers.
“And it also accelerated retirements. people who were on the edge said you know what, maybe it is time for me to go because I don’t want to adjust,” said Elliott.
At FGCU, Dr. Elliott says their education program is always looking at how the teaching field is adapting and changing, but nothing could prepare students or teachers for the pandemic.
Dr. Elliott says over the past year, the pandemic only added to an already stacked plate of responsibilities for teachers, with many juggling multiple jobs during distance learning.
Add in the fact that teachers in Florida are in the bottom five for salaries around the country, and Dr. Elliott says it’s discouraging for upcoming and established teachers.
"The changes in what they have to teach, the environment of teaching, the pay of teaching, and then retirement...so it has just snowballed from what it was prior to the pandemic to what it is now coming out of the pandemic and many teachers are just not comfortable being in the classroom now,” said Elliott.