Fewer teachers on the Treasure Coast resigned prior to schools reopening compared to last year, according to school district data.
Once classes resumed, however, more teachers in Indian River and Martin county school districts in the first weeks of school submitted their resignation letters compared to the 2019-20 school year, the data shows.
Only St. Lucie County, which reopened Aug. 24, saw a decrease in the number of resignations at the start of the year, records show.
More: Treasure Coast students, employees sent home to quarantine after possible COVID-19 exposures
Martin County saw the highest number of teacher resignations after schools reopened, though classes resumed Aug. 11 — two weeks prior than Indian River and St. Lucie counties.
Between the first day of school and Sept. 4, 26 district teachers resigned, compared to just two teachers during the first four weeks of the 2019-20 school year, district data shows.
Indian River County — which, like St. Lucie County, reopened Aug. 24 — also saw more teacher resignations this school year, data shows. Seven teachers resigned compared to zero during the first two weeks of school in 2019, district data shows.
At least some of those resignations are because of COVID-19 concerns, Indian River County teachers union President Jennifer Freeland said.
More: Fewer teachers resigned this summer compared to last, despite COVID-19 concerns
Unlike Martin and Indian River, St. Lucie reported fewer resignations between the first day of school and Sept. 4, with nine teachers resigning compared to 14 during the same two-week period at the start of the 2019-20 year, district officials there said.
St. Lucie County Classroom Teachers Association President David Freeland, however, said the number of resignations during the first two weeks may not represent the full picture.
"Resignations don't tell the whole story," he said. "The number of people on unpaid leave is higher than last year, and the people who retired is also higher compared to last year," he said.
Despite the higher number of resignations after classes resumed this year compared to last, St. Lucie and Indian River counties saw fewer resignations in the months leading up to schools reopening compared to the lead up to the 2019-20 school year, records show.
Martin County saw more resignations over the summer this year, though not by much.
More: The final four: Martin County superintendent finalists answer School Board questions
During June and July last year, 64 teachers and seven non-instructional staff resigned, compared to 61 district staff members during the same two-month period, officials said.
For Jennifer Freeland in Indian River County, the number of resignations and staff leaves will likely continue to change as the school year continues.
The district is approaching the end of the first nine-week period, when students enrolled in the transitional distance learning model can opt to come back to schools.
"If we keep the transitional model (of teaching and learning), we'll have some teachers who will leave," Jennifer Freeland said. Alternatively, if the district requires teachers to return to schools, some teachers will leave because of concerns surrounding the safety of returning amid a pandemic.
"The numbers are bound to change again," she said.
Sommer Brugal is TCPalm's education reporter for Indian River, St Lucie and Martin counties. You can keep up with Sommer on Twitter @smbrugal and give her a call at 772-221-4231.
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