LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Some teachers are choosing to leave the profession as schools prepare to head back to school amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
With just four weeks to go until school starts, Carrie South quit her job as a high school English teacher at a private school in Little Rock.
"A lot of my concern had to do with my family because my father has Parkinson's disease and my husband's father has heart trouble," she said.
South has asthma herself, and with the size of her classroom, she said it would be hard to social distance.
"They're teenagers, they have social lives, they want to go to parties, and I have no idea who they have been in contact with," she said.
The Arkansas Education Association surveyed more than 6,000 teachers in Arkansas.
Forty percent said they considered finding another job or retiring early and 84 percent said they were either concerned or very concerned about their own health returning to the classroom.
"It was not easy for me to just say well I quit! I love my kids; I have really close relations with my students," South said.
South wants to see the state better weigh teachers' input.
"Another thing I've seen is people saying teachers just want to stay home, and that could not be further from the truth. The reason we got into teaching is because we love our students," she said.
South wants to see more schools look into the virtual option.
"I don't think that there is a best-case scenario in this situation, it's kind of a lose-lose. But the only one that guarantees our safety is the one where we stay home," she said.
South acknowledges some schools don't have the resources to go virtual full time but hopes the state will at least give teachers an option as well.
"Obviously the students' health is a huge priority, but our health matters just as much and I feel we are being left out of the conversation," she said.