Created: July 22, 2020 10:22 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Many teachers in New Mexico are opting for early retirement or leaving the education sector completely due to COVID-19 concerns.
"It was a really, really hard decision to leave. I really did not want to go," said Benita Trujillo, a former Rio Rancho special education assistant.
Trujillo resigned from her special education assistant job to start working evening hours in retail.
"Having to stay home with my kids and homeschool them, you know, the three days out of the week. I have a senior, and I have an incoming freshman this year, so I need to," she said.
Trujillo said the uncertainty played a big role in her decision-making.
"That's a big part of it. Not knowing what's going to happen whether we're going to go back to 100% online learning," she said.
APS special education teacher Robert Feuer said that is part of why he and six other educators started a petition, which has almost 5,000 signatures.
"I believe that our goal is to try to get as many people through this pandemic safely. That being said, it's best for staff and students and the community at large to have distance learning for the fall semester," he said.
Plans for the fall school year are fluid, so teachers have to be ready to adapt to any education plan.
"What is happening is this chaos is creating stress for families, students and educators, and if we had a plan in place, and we knew what we were facing, educators would rally around that and do the best they can," Feuer said.
Feuer said going fully online gives teachers peace of mind and the chance to prepare.
"We want everyone to come through this well, and if it takes a little longer to get the educational needs met, we can do that later, but we can't bring back people to life," he said.
Both APS and Rio Rancho Public Schools said they're working with teachers, parents and the community on a re-entry plan.
RRPS is currently short about 50 teachers, which includes 10 who recently resigned. That number is slightly higher than normal.
APS said there hasn't been a dramatic increase in retirements and that they're about the same as previous years.
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