Some veteran teachers skip wave of pandemic-era retirements

Nov 8, 2020 by

In this photo provided by Farmington Municipal Schools, Gerald Bonds, 86, speaks with colleagues at Farmington High School in August, 2019 in Farmington, N.M. Bonds, in his 58th year of teaching at Farmington High School, like most teachers in his state has been instructing his students remotely — an arrangement he despises. Farmington Municipal Schools via AP

FARMINGTON, N.M. — At age 86, agriculture teacher Gerald Bonds, of Farmington, New Mexico, has seen plenty of crises during his career. He sees no reason to call it quits over the coronavirus pandemic.

Bonds is in his 58th year of teaching at Farmington High School and, like most teachers in his state, has been instructing his students remotely — an arrangement he despises.

“I hate it. I want to see the students face to face and talk to them,” Bonds said in a video interview.

Confronted with the technology headaches of distance learning and the health risks, some teachers have retired early or taken leave from work. But many veteran instructors like Bonds are sticking it out.

New Mexico is tied with Maine for having the oldest teachers in the country, with one in four older than 55, according to a 2018 National Center for Education Statistics survey of teachers and principals. And almost 6% of New Mexico’s teachers and teaching assistants are 65 or older, according to data from the New Mexico Public Education Department.

With few exceptions, New Mexico’s schools have been providing only distance learning, which so far has spared many teachers from having to consider the health risks that could come from being in classrooms with students.

“We are prioritizing health and safety. We have said that those teachers who do fall into those high-risk categories can ask for a low-contact or no-contact teaching assignment for this year,” said New Mexico Education Secretary Ryan Stewart. “It’s going to pose some pretty intense challenges in terms of staffing and being able to return (to in-person learning) in some districts.”

Source: Some veteran teachers skip wave of pandemic-era retirements – Chicago Sun-Times

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