More Indiana teachers deciding to retire than normal, some due to COVID-19

Education

INDIANAPOLIS – Nearly 800 teachers in Indiana are deciding to retire this school year and the fear of COVID-19 may be a reason for some. The data comes from a survey sent out by the Indiana Retired Teachers Association.

IRTA conducts this survey every year to find out how many classroom teachers will retire. 794 responded ‘yes’ and that tally is slightly higher than normal.

Belinda Fairchild taught for 37 years but the pandemic forced her to make the difficult decision to retire early.

“I do a lot of activities but I never do the risky and high elements of those activities and I was not a risk-taker,” she said. “I also have practically sole responsibility for an older parent. My father is 93. If I was to get sick, who would fix his meals?”

Returning to school this fall was too much of a risk for her. She waited until the day before classes began to make her decision. She wanted to hear the final instructions from the district.

“We did have some staff members from the high school who contracted COVID in May and younger than I and they had a tough time recovering from it,” Fairchild said.

Trish Whitcomb is the Executive Director of the Indiana Retired Teachers Association. She is noting the impact even two retirements could have on students.

“If every classroom is 25, which is low, that is 50 or more students that are being impacted by that retirement,” she said.

The job bank on the Indiana Department of Education’s website lists more than 400 jobs. That total is not far off from the number listed at the same time last year.

Yet Whitcomb said she has heard of a middle school in Indiana with 10 vacancies when the campus usually has about 20 teachers.

“How are you going to open up your school with half of your teacher staff?” Whitcomb said.

IRTA also launched a hotline this week where you can call to get homework help if your child is struggling with remote learning. Call 877-407-8829 between 1 and 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday to get connected to a teacher.

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