MINOT, N.D.— The COVID-19 pandemic has placed uncertainty on all teachers’ futures.
“They are facing more stress than they have in a long time, but our students would never know it,” said former Bismarck teacher Nick Archuleta.
Archuleta serves as president of North Dakota United. The organization helps provide resources and advocacy for the state’s 11,500 public employees and educators.
While Archuleta said the challenges aren’t as demanding as during the height of the pandemic, signs of how taxing the pandemic has been are surfacing.
“At one point the number was 83% that said, when they began teaching, they expected to retire from the profession as a teacher,” he said. “That number is now down to 50%.”
Archuleta says there are fewer people entering the field despite demand still existing. He says some are worried about pay and some don’t not want to go to rural areas where spots need filling.
This comes as the Detroit Lakes public school district cut 14 positions. The superintendent cited small class sizes and budget issues.
Archuleta warns decision-makers that job cuts aren’t the solution for budgeting.
“What they have to be very careful about is to not let short-term solutions go on to cause long-term damage,” he said. “That’s a tight rope they have to walk.”
Archuleta says the summer break may give teachers are well-deserved break. He hopes they can return to full in-person learning in the fall.
“I’m sure many of them are really thankful that they have a little time now to stop and catch their breath and looking forward to opening school next fall in a normal fashion.”