Norris teacher retires earlier than planned, says the risk is too high

Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 6:21 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A Norris teacher is saying goodbye to her classroom and retiring a few years earlier than she planned.

Mary Schlieder said going back into the classroom isn’t a risk she’s willing to take.

“It wasn’t my plan; it not what I wanted to do,” Schlieder said.

Schlieder has shared this story on CNN, and Friday will share it on MSNBC, because she said it's important the community knows what teachers are going through.

She's been a special education teacher for nearly 30 years.

"In school you build relationships that are very special," Schlieder said. "Every teacher experiences that."

But because of the pandemic, after 28 years, she won't experience that again.

Schlieder said the administration at her school has done an amazing job and worked really hard to keep kids and teachers safe.

They're requiring masks, though Schlieder worries about how students will comply.

They’re also putting some distance in-between students, but Schlieder said she’s worried about circumstances beyond their control.

She also said while Norris is going back to school in person full time, that's subject to change depending on how the semesters unfold.

"As an older teacher it could take a few days before the school catches up with statistics and make changes and meanwhile, an asymptomatic student or students could come to school and at my age I'm just not willing to take that risk," Schlieder said.

She's not the only one who has made this decision.

A survey done by the Nebraska State Education Association found that 32 percent of the 3,000 teachers who responded were more likely to retire or quit teaching earlier than expected.

10/11 NOW pulled the statistics for local school districts.

In Norris, the five year average for teachers retiring is five a year, this year nine teachers are retiring.

In LPS, the average is 78, this year 88 teachers are retiring.

In Beatrice the average is six a year, this year five teachers are retiring.

In Seward the average is two a year, this year three teachers are retiring.

The survey also found that less than half of Nebraska teachers think it's safe to go back to school, especially those in Lancaster and Douglas County.

But Schlieder said everyone can play a role in easing these concerns.

“We all want students in the classroom,” Schlieder said. “We want life to be as normal as possible but it’s a responsibility of our entire community to do what is recommended to get cases down.”

Copyright 2020 KOLN. All rights reserved.

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