VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - After spending nearly 30 years in a classroom, Kelly Walker says teachers are at a tipping point.
"I worry for our profession, and so should you,” Walker tells school board members.
This was her plea to leaders at Tuesday night’s meeting. Virginia Beach City Public Schools leaders say they are aware of the ongoing teacher shortage.
“All school divisions are scrambling to fill vacancies,” said a school leader.
Walker, the president of the Virginia Beach Education Association, says teachers are either resigning or retiring because of the pressure they are receiving from leaders to go back to the classroom during the pandemic.
"They are having to choose between their health and their jobs,” she adds.
She says those who can afford to leave are putting in their paperwork.
"We are having mid-career employees resigning. They are taking jobs in other professions because of the stress and health risks,” Walker adds.
School leaders says numbers fluctuate on a daily basis.
"Since August 15, 2020, we had 70 new teacher resignations,” said a school leader.
Leaders say there are about 65 current teacher vacancies.
"Many are throwing in the towel," Walker adds.
Leaders with the district say they have been able to hire more than 100 teachers in the same time frame.
They still don't have enough teachers, so almost 400 teachers who requested to teach virtually will head back into the classroom once they get the green light, according to the health metrics.
Only teachers who submitted health documentation to stay home will teach remotely.
"This again illustrates the lack of resources we have in staffing,” Walker adds.
Special education students are back in the classroom. Next week, pre-kindergarten through second grade students will join them.
Walker says, "I do think they are moving too quickly.”
Some parents who addressed the board agree with her.
"Slow the process, reduce the anxiety,” said Lauren Logan.
Others think otherwise.
"I'm here to advocate for my child to return back to school with the rest of the first graders.”