COVID-19 pandemic driving California teachers into early retirement

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The coronavirus pandemic is driving many teachers in California into early retirement, according to an assessment by the state's teacher pension system.

More than 3,200 teachers in California retired in the second half of 2020. That’s a more than 25 percent increase over the same period the previous year.

“Sixty-two percent of those surveyed retired earlier than planned,” said Karen Doron with CalSTRS.

Doron said their survey of 500 retiring teachers found over half were doing so because of the challenges of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Thirty-five percent said they did not want to continue working remotely and 35 percent did not want to risk exposure to COVID-19,” she told KCBS Radio.

If this trend continues, there could be nearly 16,000 teacher retirements this fiscal year.

However, Doron said a spike like this is normal during times of economic uncertainty.

“For example, following the Great Recession, more than 16,000 members filed for retirement during the 2009-2010 year, and that was actually the highest number of retirements we’ve seen over the last 20 years,” she added.

For now, CalSTRS said the rush of teachers to retire will not impact pension benefits.