Arizona schools have long struggled with teacher shortages but the problem was made worse this year by COVID-19, which has led to more teachers quitting or taking leave, school officials said.

Just over 28% of teaching slots were still vacant several weeks into the 2020-2021 school year, up from 21% last year, according to an annual survey by the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association.

The association, which included a question on the coronavirus for the first time this year, found that 464 teachers who retired this year or who took a year off from teaching said their primary reason for doing so was COVID-19.

“We’ve had a couple of resignations and it’s not 100% related to the work – it’s definitely COVID related,” said Dawn

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