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Survey: Pandemic continues to put a strain on Oklahoma teachers

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Oklahoma teachers continue to be on the front lines of the pandemic, and it’s stressing them out.

That’s according to a September online poll the Oklahoma Education Association sent to its members. In the survey, 94% of teachers said a student in their building has contracted COVID-19 this school year, 82% said a colleague has and 27% said they personally have caught COVID. OEA President Katherine Bishop noted in the organization's weekly podcast that happened after months of warnings from health officials about the steps needed to make in-person learning safe.

"And it was gut-wrenching in the same respect, too, because we knew there was going to be a crisis, we knew it was coming, we need to be prepared, and then when the numbers came out, it was just, like, 'Oh, my gosh,'" Bishop said.

While most teachers are back in the classroom with all their students, many are still at schools offering virtual options as well, and a shortage of substitute teachers continues to be an issue. Just 9% of teachers responding to the survey said there are enough subs.

Given the circumstances, the average stress level of teachers responding to the survey was 6.4 on a 10-point scale. OEA Vice President Cari Elledge said Mid-Del teachers are stressed enough that they’re going to their school board.

"They are organizing to be able to present that data to the school board to let them know this workload is unimaginable. We're adding things to our plates, we're learning new technology, we're adapting, but it is really difficult. And it's killing us," Elledge said.

Almost 6% of teachers responding to the survey said they plan to retire early this year. Another 15% are looking to get out of teaching.

The online survey was conducted Sept. 1–26 with 815 people responding.

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