The Missouri Board of Education discussed Tuesday the obstacles and additional workload that teachers and other school workers are dealing with this year. Member Don Claycomb said he expects a much greater number of teachers to leave the profession due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Missouri Board of Education talks about ongoing challenges schools are facing during pandemic

“Apparently some feel pushed to the wall,” he said.

Missouri already has a chronic shortage of teachers. Pay is a major reason for the state’s teacher workforce problems. Missouri’s average teacher salary is about $42,000 – ranking it about 42nd in the nation.

The state has about 70,000 pre-K through 12 teachers.

Board President Charlie Shields made a request.

“And I am serious about is there something that you can do for teachers that if you can make it through to the end, which is a challenge for some, that there would be some sort of retention bonus or something like that. I mean, if you would at least dig deeper to make sure I’m not off base on that,” said Shields.

Some states are using a guideline that allows school staff and students to avoid quarantining if masks are worn in school and they do not show symptoms or test positive for COVID-19. Doing so would prevent the back and forth shuffling of students and workers from in-person schooling to remote learning if someone considered a close contact comes down with COVID-19.

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education spokesperson Mallory McGowin said if schools require masks at the local level, such a mandate could be beneficial to them.

“Our school leaders just are having a hard time feeling like they are sustainable for the next seven months of the school year,” said McGowin. “And so, we have let our school leaders know we will continue to push for a closer look at some of these measures.”

McGowin said the state is not at a point yet to require a statewide mask order within schools. Missouri has prided itself on being a local control state.

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