CAVE CREEK, AZ — Students and teachers at the Cave Creek Unified School District returned to in-person classes in early September, joining other schools as petri dishes for how classes could be handled during Covid-19. Weeks later, early results show the struggle – teachers leaving schools over health concerns, students in classrooms led by long-term substitute teachers and parents trying to figure it all out.
Two dozen teachers – about 9% of the district’s 263 certified classroom teachers – have resigned or gone on leave, according to Caroline Lynch, the district’s director of human resources. But not all of those were related to Covid-19, Superintendent Debbi Burdick said.
That’s the most teachers to have left the district in a semester in all of Burdick’s 12 years as superintendent, she said.
“I’m really feeling lucky that we’ve hired two teachers in the last month,” she said. “Because you’re not seeing a lot of people applying, you actively have to go out to the universities or the communities looking for people, so it is a concern.”
The situation in Cave Creek is being repeated in schools across Arizona and the U.S. as administrators, staff members, teachers, parents and – especially – students grapple with how to best learn during a pandemic. They have devised online, in-person and hybrid learning models, each of which has drawn support and criticism.