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Florida Has A Critical Shortage of Teachers. Here's Why. Hint: One of the Reasons Begins With The Letters COVID-19

Photo: Science in HD
Photo: Science in HD

The Florida Education Association is sounding the alarm on a critical shortage of teachers this school year. 

The association says more than 450,000 students may head back to school without a full-time teacher in place. 

FEA Vice President Carole Gauronskas says COVID is partially to blame for many teachers retiring early and students not pursuing the field.

“Ask the scientists, ask the doctors, and ask the educators what it is like to be in that classroom with poor ventilation with 26 children or more - many classes will have 30 or more students – and until we’re asked at that table with the legislators, I would say, you do your work, let us do our work. We went to school for four years plus, we know what we’re doing, let us do it."

She says the other reason is simple: teachers aren't paid enough or respected enough considering the time they put in.

“Overall, there are approximately 450,000 children who will not have a certified full-time teacher in their classrooms on the first day of school. So that roughly translates into almost 5,000 teaching positions that are open and more than 3,700 support staff positions.”

A recent FEA survey found some 13.5 percent of English classes and 8.1 percent of math classes statewide are taught by teachers who are not certified in those subjects.

Danielle Prieur is WMFE's education reporter.