OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma educators are at a breaking point. A new survey released by the Oklahoma Education Association shows the pandemic is still taking a toll inside the classroom.
“Exhausted, overwhelmed, cried in my car, unsustainable, I need kid help more than teacher help, micromanaged, I quit a job today that I used to love. All of these are what teachers have repeatedly told me since school has started,” said Lori Burris, a speaker at Mid-Del School Board Meeting. “They are feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated. They are broken and feel forced to quit to protect their physical and mental health.”
“Their words are powerful. It shows that they’re stretched and they’re stressed,” said Katherine Bishop, Oklahoma Education Association President.
The OEA surveyed over 800 members in September.
One of the biggest takeaways, 94% say a student in their building has contracted Covid-19 this school year.
And 82% say an education employee in their building has tested positive this school year.
“What they need is support. What they need is support from their district level, from their site level. They need parental support,” Bishop said.
When asked to use one word to describe their predominant feeling about their job– some of the top answers were- “overwhelmed,” “stressful,” and “frustrated.”
The same concerns echoing from the Mid-Del School Board meeting earlier this week.
A teacher currently battling cancer describing doing online schoolwork while receiving chemotherapy.
“Two weeks ago was one of the weeks of chemotherapy treatments,” said Kristi Reise, Mid-Del Schools teacher. “So, there I am in the infusion chair, IV hooked up to me. I pull out my school laptop to do work on some canvas. Every single nurse tending to me that day said ‘what are you doing?’ Wait, why? Aren’t you off the clock right now?… Even I was more focused on Canvas than my own Stage 4 life-threatening issue.”
The survey also showing 12% say their district does not require students and staff to isolate after a COVID-19 positive test.
“That violates state law. We have a law that says the school has a responsibility to not let anyone into that school building that has a communicable disease,” Bishop said.
“A teacher’s working conditions are a student’s learning conditions. So, when teachers are stressed to the brink, so are their students,” Burris said.
Also, the OEA says nearly 6% of educators say they plan to retire early this year and another 14.7% are currently looking for another job outside the profession.