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As the School Year Begins, Nearly Three-Fourths of K-12 Educators Consider Their Jobs Risky in Terms of Potential Exposure to COVID-19

As teachers across the nation begin a new school year, a national poll reveals that K-12 educators are deeply concerned about their personal safety and family finances during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet despite their worries, the research finds that these public employees value serving their communities during this difficult time and feel that the pandemic has made the public more aware of the importance of their work.

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These findings are contained in a new infographic from the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE) and ICMA-RC. The K-12 public school employee research is a supplement to a wide-ranging analysis of state and local employees’ views detailed in the recent report, Public Sector Employee Views on Finances and Employment Outlook Due to COVID-19.

Register at no charge here for a webinar on Wednesday, August 26, 2020, at 1:00 PM ET to review the findings, as well as additional SLGE and ICMA-RC research, Survey Findings: K-12 Public School Employee Views on Job and Benefits.

SLGE will host a Twitter chat on @4GovtExcellence immediately following the webinar to respond to questions.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic extends into another school year, the critical role of K-12 public school employees in communities across the nation is increasingly apparent,” said Rivka Liss-Levinson, PhD, SLGE director of research. “Clearly, teachers are worried about their personal safety and long-term financial security. Yet, they still value serving their communities.”

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She added, “As schools make decisions about virtual or in-person learning, it will be important to assess how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts K-12 educators’ morale, and financial and job outlook. Even before the crisis, recruiting and retaining state and local employees, including teachers, was a challenge for many jurisdictions.”

Key survey findings of the K-12 Education Employee Views on COVID-19 infographic are summarized below:

  • 72 percent of respondents consider their job at least somewhat risky in terms of potential exposure to people who may have COVID-19.
  • One quarter (26 percent) agree the risks they are taking working during the pandemic are not on par with their compensation.
  • 76 percent are concerned that the pandemic and the related economic crisis will impact their ability to save enough to be financially secure throughout retirement.
  • Over the course of the next year, about one quarter (28 percent) expect they will reduce the amount they are saving for retirement currently.
  • Most (61 percent) report that they and their family have been negatively impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Over the course of the next year, 61 percent expect they will spend less than normal (on either essential or non-essential expenses) in comparison to what it would have been had the pandemic not occurred.
  • Two-thirds of respondents (68 percent) say the pandemic has made the public more aware of the importance of their work.
  • 64 percent indicate that they value serving their community during this difficult time.

Information for this research is excerpted from the 218 K-12 education respondents of an online survey of 1,008 full-time state and local government employees conducted in May 2020, along with a separate poll of 400 K-12 employees in March 2020.

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