Alabama seeing shortage in teachers due to COVID-19

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A lingering issue with teacher shortages across Alabama has now reached an all-time high. Schools statewide are seeing a major decline in teachers and school officials say the pandemic is the blame.

The pandemic has introduced a new form of learning statewide. Many districts have adopted remote learning versus traditional in-person learning as a method to keep COVID numbers down. But it’s now pushing more teachers out of the classrooms.

“Teaching online is difficult and challenging in many ways. It’s challenging for our teachers and families,” said Dr. Eric Mackey, State Superintendent of Education.

A learning adjustment statewide that most teachers can’t quite get a handle on, causing many to just walk away.

“We actually have more young people in college going into teaching than we’ve had in many years. So we feel long-term good about that. But in the short-term we find much middle age and older teachers are not wanting to go back in the classrooms,” Dr. Mackey said.

Dr. Mackey said that the growing teacher shortage has been going on for at least two years, but now numbers are drastically dropping due to COVID-19.

“We just don’t have as many applicants out there. That’s true in elementary, middle, and high school. In most of the state, there are plenty of elementary teachers still, and it’s simply a high school issue. But we do have parts of the state where it’s a pretty acute problem across the board,” Dr. Mackey said.

Some students have had substitute teachers since the first day of school this academic year. For educator Abigail Davis with Alabama Education Association, that can be alarming.

“It is, it is because you want to have people that are staffed full-time. We don’t want our students to experience change and change,” said Davis.

As frustrating as this change may be, Davis believes a lot of improvements are needed to fully fix this problem beyond COVID.

“Teachers need to be more respected and need an increase in pay,” said Davis.

But for now, Davis said, “you’re going to have to have patience. This will pass.”

Dr. Mackey created a teacher shortage task force to help bring in more teachers. But the key is beating this virus and getting back in class statewide to hopefully bring some relief to parents, students, and teachers.

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