PHOENIX — Filling open teaching positions at schools across the state has been a problem for years. COVID-19 has made the issue worse.
Teachers are now resigning or retiring over the coronavirus concerns, leaving schools in a lurch.
"I didn't feel safe going in," Ruben Miranda, a now former music teacher at Constitution Elementary School, said. He left his 6-year position at the school after they announced in-person teaching would resume.
“To kind of protect myself and to protect everyone else," he said.
Miranda says he doesn't think the safety protocols that Deer Valley Unified School District has in place are enough.
"I would have been in full classes with students of up to 30 or more and they would have been not socially distanced,” he said. “They said that only 3 feet was a minimum… I was trying to get thermometers to check students at the door and my district said no."
Miranda is not alone in his concerns.
According to a new report from the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association, Arizona is facing the worst teacher shortage it has ever seen.
Since the start of the school year alone, more than 750 teachers have called it quits. 40% of those teachers say COVID-19 is the reason they chose to resign or retire.
The Deer Valley Unified School District released a statement to 12 News saying "over the past several months, DVUSD has worked with public health experts to create an On Campus Operational Safety Plan using the best guidance available to keep students and staff safe."
The district tells us the plan includes Maricopa County Department of Public Health recommendations and other state and national public health agencies including bus riding, social distancing, mask-wearing, disinfecting/sanitizing, and indoor air quality.
However, the district also states on its plan that there is "no guarantee that physical distancing will always occur."
Until more safety precautions are put in place or the pandemic comes to an end, Miranda and several hundred other former Arizona teachers aren't willing to take a gamble.
"It could be potentially deadly," he said.
For more information on the district's plan, visit their site here.
You can check out the full recent survey from the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association here.