Tracking teacher resignations across SC: Education advocates concerned about uptick they’re seeing in state

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Education advocates in South Carolina are tracking what they call an alarming trend- an uptick in teacher resignations.

Numbers obtained by 7 News show 334 staff including teachers within the Greenville County School District have resigned since August 1. That beats out 271 from the same time frame the year before. School leaders said the pandemic is likely the driving force behind it all.

Virtual learning, weakened immune systems and concerns about daycare during a pandemic are just some of the factors Greenville County School leaders say could be leading to an increase in resignations.

“It’s safe to say COVID-19 really had everything to do with this large number of resignations and retirements,” said the Director of Media Relations with Greenville County Schools, Tim Waller.

Data shows 35 teachers, 41 aides and 103 substitutes have resigned from the district since August 1. And while we’re told it’s not a significant increase for a district this large, education advocates told us it’s the timing that concerns them.

“What we’re seeing consistently in district after district across the state, is higher numbers of resignations since the start of a school year,” said Patrick Kelly with the Palmetto State Teacher’s Association.

These numbers are no surprise to long-time teacher, Edith Alston.

“I’ve been getting a couple of text messages and emails, trying to keep some friends encouraged,” said Greenville County Schools Special Education Teacher, Edith Alston.

She has over two decades of experience, but this year has brought many firsts.

“A lot of people are making choices, some really hard choices. Some are retiring early just because they want to live for tomorrow,” Alston told us.

That’s what education advocates like Patrick Kelly are worried will keep happening.

“If we lose great teachers right now who permanently exit the teacher workforce, then we are going to be facing a full-blown crisis in this state,” Kelly told 7 News.

Also taking a closer look at the number of staff, including teachers that have retired since August 1, that number is at 33 which nearly doubles in comparison to 2019.

Additional information from Greenville County Schools:

“Teacher turnover in Greenville County Schools was 10.3% in 2018-19 and 8.4% in 2019-20.  From July 1 to Nov. 18 of this year we had 83 teachers retire or resign, which is 22 more than the same time period last year.  Based on the low turnover rate for last school year, it appears many people took a wait and see approach to job and life changes during the depths of the pandemic shutdown (March 15-summer).”

From August 1, 2020 through Nov. 18, 2020, here is a breakdown of resignations/retirements by employees.  Adjunct employees and EDP workers are not included.

CategoryRetiredResigned
Teachers1435
Aides641
Professional43
Nurse015
Clerical23
Maintenance02
Transportation027
FANS374
Building Services431
Substitutes0103
Total 202033334
Same Time Period 201917271

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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