Utah teachers are resigning in droves — or retiring early — as some districts plan to return to in-person classes amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to new reports. In Salt Lake County — where the number of cases has been the highest in the state — at least 79 educators have decided to leave their posts, the Salt Lake Tribune reported this week. At least 16 of those resignations have come in the past week, as the first day of school approaches, according to the report. The Granite School District, one of the five in the county, is losing the largest number of teachers, according to the report. Thirty-two are quitting and a dozen are retiring, including Jan Roberts, a 54-year-old third-grade teacher. “The thought of going back into the classroom to teach was just so incredibly stressful,” Roberts told the Tribune. “I couldn’t risk making any of my students sick or getting sick myself.” Roberts, and other teachers, fear that local districts and the state aren’t doing enough to protect them, according to the report. “We’re just being told to jump in like nothing is wrong,” she said. “It’s not OK.” Most students in the Granite district are expected to return to near-normal instruction with in-person classes four days a week, unlike in neighboring districts, according to the report.
                        A teacher at Arrowhead Elementary in class for Washington County School District in Santa Clara, Utah.                                                          <p class="credit">Chris Caldwell/The Spectrum via AP</p>

                        Parents, teachers and students gather to voice their concerns about school reopening plans during a board meeting of the Alpine School District at Lehi High School.                                                            <p class="credit">AP/Rick Bowmer</p>

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More than 500 teachers protested those plans last month. Meanwhile, teachers who are too young to retire — including sixth-grade teacher Cathy Gray — were fined $1,000 if they put in their resignations too late, after July 13, KSTU reported. “I would not do it if I did not think it was in the best interest of kids and schools in general,” Gray told the outlet. “I wouldn’t be able to keep kids safe at the level that their parents were expecting me to based on the plans that were put out.”

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