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Video: Some Minnesota Teachers Considering Early Retirement Amid ‘Back To School’ Concerns

Aug 08, 2020 06:47AM ● By Editor

Watch the WCCO-TV Report here

Photo: WCCO-TV

By Erin Hassanzadeh of WCCO-TV - August 7, 2020

With school starting in a matter of weeks, some teachers are feeling apprehensive about the game plan.

WCCO’s Erin Hassanzadeh shows the drastic measure some are considering if they’re asked to return to the classroom in-person.

Pine City teacher Ryan Larson was recently celebrated as one of the top ten teachers in Minnesota.

But with in-person classes slated to start soon, COVID-19 concerns have him caught between the job he loves and the family he loves.

“I have a certain level of apprehension, my dad is a quadriplegic,” Larson said. “Though my specific experience might be unique I think it reflects what a lot of people are feeling right now.”

After nearly 30 years in education, second grade Minneapolis teacher Scott Devens may have already spent his last day in the classroom.

“When you put it that way it’s kind of emotional,” Devens said.

Devens’ district will start the year remotely, but if teachers have to return to the classroom before a vaccine, the 59-year-old says he will look into early retirement options.

“It would be a pretty big hit; thousands of dollars we’re talking,” Devens said.

Retiring early can have a major impact on pension benefits. The Teacher’s Retirement Association pension fund works a lot like social security — 66 is the normal retirement age. Retiring six years early at age 60, your benefits are reduced by 42 percent. While retiring at age 55, your benefits are slashed by 65 percent.

“We tend to see educators working longer into their retirement years just to pay for health care, but they’re looking at it differently this year that’s for sure,” Specht said.

Education Minnesota President Denise Specht says many are at least are considering early retirement.

“They know what their buildings look like, they know that they are working in buildings with improper ventilation,” Specht said.

Aerosol transmission of the virus is Devens’ number one concern. A concern that he’s willing to pay a hefty price to mitigate.

“I think there’s got to be a better solution than this tension we’re feeling right now,” Devens said

The governor’s guidance on reopening schools mentions that all families will have the option to choose distance learning for their student and that teachers and staff will be given similar flexibility.

To watch the original story and read related reporting, follow this link to the WCO-TV website.

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