Francis Howell teachers opt to retire early due to COVID

COVID and the Classroom

ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – Francis Howell School District said three of its teachers decided to retire early because of concerns of COVID-19.

The National Education Association found that 28 percent of educators were more likely to retire early or leave the profession because of COVID-19.

While that percentage is not as drastic in the Francis Howell School District, the three teachers that retired early make up only .25 percent of its 1,200 teachers.

“Those three were reasons specific to COVID, whether it was just a comfort level with being in the classroom or maybe they had a family member who was in the high-risk category and they didn’t want to risk bringing something home,” said Jennifer Jolls, Francis Howell School District director of communications and community relations.

The district said it is in the process of filling four positions, which is rare this late into the school year. The four positions are in the final stage of interviews, but normally all positions are posted in March and then filled in June or July, not September.

“It’s extremely rare for a teacher to ask to be released from their contract this close to the start of the school year,” Jolls said.

With the fear of spreading COVID-19, the district wants students and staff to stay home if they feel sick, even if it is a symptom they would have powered through and still gone to school with before. This is creating a need for more substitutes.

“We are planning for more absences than maybe we would have in a typical year, in the same way we are asking parents to take illness seriously and keep their students home if they have any symptoms related to COVID-19.”

Representatives from Wentzville and Fort Zumwalt school districts said there were not any more retirements than normal, but they need substitutes as well.

“We’re in the same boat as many other districts, where we want to continually have substitutes on our rosters,” Jolls said.

In August, Missouri changed its requirements to make it easier to become a substitute teacher.

Instead of 60 college credit hours, substitutes need a high school diploma and 20 hours of online training.

To learn more about becoming a substitute teacher, visit the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s website.

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