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Teachers are leaving the classroom because of COVID-19

Teachers insist new precautions aren't enough to keep them and their students safe from COVID-19, forcing them to end their careers early.

INDIANAPOLIS — Some Indiana teachers are afraid to return to their classrooms.

They insist new precautions aren't enough to keep them and their students safe from COVID-19.

Students returning to Garrett High School won't find Beth Leitch teaching Spanish. She abruptly retired years before she planned to.

"It was tough," Leitch said. "I had dreams, nightmares and a lot of lost sleep."

Heidi Hisrich took her students to Europe last summer. Last weekend, the former top 10 Indiana teacher, resigned from Richmond High School.

"I feel at peace with it most of the time," Hisrich said. "I am not regretting the decision. I am grieving very deeply. And it comes in waves."

Two teachers from different schools, at different stages in their careers, left their classrooms for the same reason.

"In the end, what made you give up something you love?" Reporter Rich Van Wyk asked. 

Leitch didn't hesitate. "My husband, because I love him more," she said.

Kevin Leitch survived a heart attack. The couple, in their 60's, might not survive a bout with COVID-19.

Hisrich also feared bringing the virus home from school and infecting her family.

"Leaving my children or a parent with long term chronic health issues or having a grandparent dying. God forbid anything like that," Hisrich said.

Neither teacher thinks precautions their schools are taking will keep children or workers safe from the virus.

"My room is pretty large, but if I have 28 or 29 students, there is no way to physically distance probably even to 3 feet," Leitch explained.

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"Our administrators don't know how to do this," Hisrich insisted. "They know how to run a school and a district when there is not a pandemic. No one knows how to do it when there is a pandemic."

It is impossible to know how many teachers are quitting or retiring because of the coronavirus. No state agency is tracking the numbers. Some school districts refuse to release the information, saying it is confidential.