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Seattle educators warn of teacher burnout due to pandemic pressures

A national survey found more than a quarter of teachers say that the COVID-19 crisis has made them more likely to leave the profession.

SEATTLE — After months of teaching during a pandemic and the challenges that presents, some Seattle educators say they're concerned about a burnout crisis. 

Third-grade teacher Derek Grandbois says he's sometimes working 15-hour days and the logistics of teaching online curriculum requires significantly more time. 

"I'm saddened that that we haven't had a big conversation from the district about, okay, teachers, how are they doing, what needs to change," Grandbois said.

Grandbois says he and other teachers are also parents navigating their children's education while adjusting to the demands of the pandemic. 

A recent National Education Association survey found that 28% of educators say the pandemic has made them more likely to retire early or leave the profession. 

"But it's been it's been really, really tiring and and some days you know some days it's fine some things I can just kind of push through but a lot of times, I don't know how much longer," Grandbois said. 

Coinciding with the push for more diversity in education, the NEA's survey found that 43% of Black teachers say they're looking to retire early or get out of the profession. 

"I truly think that we are in a crisis place right now and it simply is not sustainable," Evin Shinn said. 

Shinn is a literacy coach in Seattle. He says he looks on from his virtual classroom as teachers try to cope with the ballooning pressures and hopes school districts address to what's going on. 

"I think we need a lot more understanding from families that teachers are really trying to do their best, just like parents and families are also trying to do their best as well. I think that we need administrators to ask more questions about the mental health of their staff members," Shinn said.

When asked what he thinks needs to happen for things to change course for teachers, Grandbois says there should be more acknowledgment about how unnormal life is right now. 

"We have to stop pretending that this is regular school. We have to stop pretending like that I can do everything that I did in class I can do online where we have to stop pretending that that's actually a thing," Grandbois said.