The COVID-19 pandemic could force more teachers out if districts open up too soon.

PHOENIX, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- The J.O. Unified School District was supposed to start in-person learning on Monday, but because more than a hundred teachers called out, it was canceled.

Now, Queen Creek schools are ready to welcome students back on Monday. A spokesperson said they have enough staff, but what happens if the state runs out?

Joe Thomas, the President of the Arizona Education Association, told Arizona's Family that the state already has a teacher shortage from last year, and this pandemic, Thomas said, could force more teachers out if districts open up schools too soon. Thomas also anticipates a substitute teacher shortage during this time when other teachers are calling out. Some of those older substitutes are at high risk for the virus.

"The educators that I've talked to in Queen Creek are very concerned about the health of their students and their colleagues," said Thomas. "I don't know how many teachers are going to be ready to teach, but this ups the anxiety they have. We do our best teaching, and students do their best learning when they're free of distractions."

Arizona's Family spoke to two Queen Creek teachers who were happy to go back to school on Monday, but dozens of educators in that district have resigned from the start of summer until now, according to their union.


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