HOUSTON — Mariah Najmuddin plans to quit teaching after five years in the classroom.
“I teach 7th grade Spanish in Cy-Fair ISD,” Najmuddin said. "The risk to my family is too high.”
Najmuddin said students at her school are in COVID-related quarantine daily along with fellow teachers who are required to instruct in-person.
"You know, I’m a very young teacher and so the probability of me getting sick is low," she said. "But I take care of my parents and ... I carry that very deeply. Like, what if I bring COVID home?”
The Cy-Fair American Federation of Teachers, to which Najmuddin belongs, said it constantly hears from educators about giving up a profession they love. But it definitely isn’t limited to one district.
A recent report by Horace Mann Educators Corporation found that 27% of teachers surveyed are considering leaving their job, retiring early or taking a leave of absence because of the pandemic.
A majority are also doing more work than a year ago, enjoy their jobs less and don’t feel totally secure with health and safety precautions.
And then there are concerns about the lack of immediate access to vaccines in states like Texas.
"The message they were getting is that they don’t matter,” said National Education Association President Betty Pringle.
The NEA recently conducted its own nationwide survey of educators. Pringle said she's spoken with many of them as well.
"And they said, 'You know, Betty, we just want to be appreciated,'" Pringle said. "'We just want to be appreciated and we want to know that people care and they’ll take care of us and our students.'”
That’s something districts have said they've attempted to do under circumstances for which no one could rapidly prepare.
Najmuddin wasn't willing to bet she'd be more comfortable come next school year.
"We’re not going to magically solve a global pandemic by August,” she said.