BACK TO SCHOOL

Study Gives Utah An ‘F’ For Protecting Teachers During Pandemic

Sep 4, 2020, 11:16 AM | Updated: 11:17 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A new study has accused Utah of failing to protect teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study, from the insurance comparison shopping site Insurfy, looked at public school infrastructure; factors affecting teachers such as salary, age, and union influence; health care; and daily COVID-19 case counts.

Based on those factors, the study gave Utah an F grade, with the biggest concerns being crowded classrooms and below average school spending.

However, it’s important to note the study did credit the state with having above average health care quality and teacher union strength.

Utah Education Association President Heidi Matthews said COVID-19 only made these historical issues worse and the disparities for teachers vary from district to district.

“It’s a different ball of wax in one district to the next district,” she said. “As the labor organization for educators to Utah, we believe an injustice to one is an injustice to all,and we have places where there is an injustice,” Matthew said.

State leaders said they recognize the concerns with coronavirus, but having kids in the classroom is worth fighting for.

“We understand that the flexibility we’re asking for puts a huge burden on families, on teachers, on district administrators,” said Tami Pyfer, education adviser to Gov. Gary Herbert. “But we believe in the benefits of in-person learning.”

According to the study, teachers are feeling the brunt of inadequate teaching conditions. That may be an indicating factor of why 79 teachers retired or resigned in Salt Lake County as of Aug. 21.

Sue Laver is one such teacher. Laver taught at the same elementary school her entire career, teaching grades two – five.

“I’ve always really loved kids and loved being around them,” Laver said as she looked through years worth of class pictures with her students.

Laver said she and her students managed as best they could when the pandemic abruptly forced learning online during the spring.

“Teachers worked really hard,” she said. “We did the best we could.”

Along with her students, she said she was hopeful things would be better in the fall.

“My classroom was set up. I was ready to go,” Laver said.

All that was left were the school reopening guidelines under COVID-19, which were made available in June.

“They said they were going to clean more and provide masks for people who didn’t have masks,” Laver said. “ I thought, ‘That’s it, that’s all you’re going to do? That’s not enough.’”

She said she was hoping for more guidance, resources, and social distancing measures in the classroom.

“I thought, ‘How do I put 30 kids 6 feet apart inside these classrooms?’” she said.

Laver said she’s at a higher risk for the virus  due to her age and a health condition.

“I was very torn for weeks, months, really not being able to sleep, weighing my options on what to do,” she said.

Ultimately, Laver felt early retirement was the best option for her health and family.

“It was heartbreaking,” she said, “Thirty-six years worth of memories that were there. I wasn’t able to say goodbye to any colleagues or any students.”

Laver said she feels the school and district did what they could to help teachers, but it wasn’t enough.  She said the state legislature could do more like tapping into the rainy day fund to give schools more financial resources.

“If this isn’t a rainy day, I don’t know what is,” she said.

KSL TV reached out to The Utah State Board of Education for its figures on teacher retirements and resignations.

Those figures indicate teacher retirements increased from 530 in 2018-19 to 631 in 2019-20. However, numbers indicate fewer teachers resigned during the same time period. In 2018-19, 324 educators resigned versus the 236 who resigned in 2019-20.

The state board defines resignations as “educators leaving the profession as opposed to moving schools, or districts, or to district offices, etc.”

State figures also do not account for anyone who resigned or retired after June 30. Those numbers will be factored into next year’s statistics.

KSL TV also reached out to four other Salt Lake County School Districts.

Salt Lake City

The Salt Lake City School District has seen 17 teachers resign or retire since March. There were 19 teachers who resigned or retired at the same time last year.

According to district spokesperson Yandary Chatwin, the district hasn’t experienced mass retirements or resignations. That has been attributed to the district being the only one in the state to start the school year remotely.

Jordan

The Jordan School District reported that between March and September, there have been 103 retirements and 205 resignations. For the same period in 2019, the district saw 105 retirements and 298 resignations.

Canyons

Since a special COVID-19 resignation window of seven days opened in July, the Canyons School District had a total of 25 resignations, including 22 teachers.

District officials could not comment on the reasons for those resignations.

“It may well be as a result of COVID-19, but that cannot be said for certain,” said district spokesperson Jeffrey Haney.

Granite

Granite School District reported that 17 teachers made retirement requests after February, and 46 teachers resigned after July 13.

“The district didn’t disaggregate based on reason, but it is assumed that most are COVID related,” said district spokesperson Ben Horsley.

KSL 5 TV Live

Back to School

Holly Duke teaches all-day kindergarten at West Kearns Elementary....

Deanie Wimmer

High stakes of kindergarten readiness; what Utah schools are doing to improve student performance

Ready for kindergarten used to mean a child turned five by the cutoff date. But as the stakes and expectations get higher, teachers are encountering some surprising behaviors.

6 months ago

This week KSL+ looks at what school districts describe as “chronic absenteeism” in Utah’s sch...

Braden McElreath and Michael Houck, KSL TV

8 Utah schools have been placed on lockdown since the start 2023-2024 school year

In just two and a half weeks, seven Utah schools have issued seven lockdown protocols. 

6 months ago

Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook...

Dan Rascon

Bingham High seniors petition due to school parking shortage

Some Bingham High School seniors in South Jordan, say a new parking policy for students is now preventing them from finding open stalls.

6 months ago

The outside of Ella Vista Elementary School. (KSL TV)...

Shelby Lofton

Bella Vista Elementary starts school year without air conditioning

Another Utah school is starting its school year without any AC.

6 months ago

McKinley Elementary School, Box Elder County School District. (KSL TV)...

Karah Brackin and Mary Culbertson, KSL TV

Box Elder School District among the last to head back to school; largely due to the County Fair

Box Elder School District heads back to school as one of the last districts to do so in the state. While they have unique factors to consider, students and administration are pumped for the new school year.

6 months ago

The Timekettle Translator earbuds that Herriman High School uses for their international students....

Karah Brackin and Michael Houck, KSL TV

New translation device helps international students in classes and studies

As Herriman High School continues to see the number of international students increasing, the school is turning to a game-changing device that is helping break down the language barrier.

6 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Study Gives Utah An ‘F’ For Protecting Teachers During Pandemic