Arizona teachers and educators have many concerns about getting back to teaching and want to be a part of the decision-making process as schools consider their reopening plans. This, according to results from a survey of Arizona educators released by Expect More Arizona.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for schools all over the world and Arizona has been no exception,” said Christine Thompson, president and CEO of Expect More Arizona. “Spring closures reminded our community that educators are some of the most dedicated and necessary professionals out there.”
According to the survey, 79 percent plan to return to the classroom with 18 percent still undecided. Only one quarter of respondents indicated that the pandemic influenced their decision.
But concern about the virus remains. Half are concerned or very concerned about their safety and health when they return to their classrooms in July or August. By far, teachers’ biggest concerns about returning to school are the health and safety of staff (67%) and students (62%). Other key areas of concern include student mental health (37%) and helping students catch up (35%).
Nearly 10,800 classroom teachers voluntarily completed the survey. While a majority of respondents were from Maricopa County (59%) every county was represented in the survey.
As of May 31, the majority of Arizona teachers had yet to be included in school planning conversations, with 56 percent sharing they had not been included and 22 percent who had not yet been included, but who expected to be in the future.
“While no one knows what the next few weeks, months or even year will hold, it is essential that schools and other education decision-makers include student, parent and teacher voices in the process,” Thompson added. “The large number of participants in our survey speaks volumes about educators’ desire to be heard.”
Three in four respondents want to see rules requiring teachers and students to stay home if they are sick. Additionally, strict sanitation procedures and access to cleaning products in the classroom should be a priority for school districts, along with clear protocols and procedures for staff, parents, and students.
“Now is the time to rally behind schools to support our teachers and students,” said Thompson. “The costs associated with COVID-19 will be substantial, and at a time when budgets are already tight. We must ensure school needs are met so they can continue the vital work of closing achievement gaps and preparing the next generation of leaders, professionals, entrepreneurs and more.”
The survey was conducted by Expect More Arizona in partnership with the Arizona State Board of Education. Data was compiled and analyzed by Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and Decision Center for Educational Excellence, led by Kristi Glassmeyer, Jeanne M. Powers, and Joe O’Reilly. Other groups assisted in sharing the survey with teachers, including the Arizona Department of Education, Arizona Charter Schools Association, Arizona Education Association, Arizona School Boards Association, Arizona School Administrators, Arizona K-12 Center, Arizona Education Foundation, Tucson Values Teachers and many more.
More detailed survey results can be found at ExpectMoreArizona.org/TeacherVoices.