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40% of Arkansas teachers considered leaving job due to coronavirus, survey says



The Arkansas Education Association is educating teachers on the best ways to stay safe with exactly one month to go until kids head back into the classroom.

The Arkansas Education Association surveyed more than 6,000 teachers in the state. Forty percent said they considered leaving the profession or retiring early out of health concerns for returning to the classroom.

“We have to everything that we can humanly possibly do to protect our students and educators,” AEA President Carol Fleming said.

So Monday, Fleming held a town hall with doctors to figure out the best ways teachers can keep a healthy environment.

“I do think for the most part if we do everything we’re supposed to, kids, teachers, and staff can go to school safely,” Dr. Gary Wheeler with the Arkansas Academy of Pediatrics said.

On top of social distancing, hand washing, and masks, Dr. Wheeler recommends schools also have proper ventilation, like opening windows and doors, and sanitizing practices.

Schools should also contact the building engineer to figure out the best way to increase ventilation, especially if there are classrooms that do not have windows.

Dr. Wheeler said keeping windows open will increase airflow. Patrick Bruce with the North Little Rock School District says this is a vital step.

“If you have an older building that is consistently recycling the same air, filters have not been changed, ducts have not been cleaned, then whatever is in the air is going to continue to come into the room, into our gyms and the cafeteria,” Bruce said.

Bruce also stresses the importance of teachers and parents speaking up if they feel their district is not doing enough to protect them.

“Because if you’ve never had the ear of a school board, trust me, you have it right now. Because everyone wants input from the people that are in the classroom,” he said.