Baltimore City Public Schools is battling hundreds of staff vacancies this fall. Image via Google Maps.

Not enough teachers are returning to Maryland classrooms this month as schools across the state, and the nation, struggle to find workers willing to show up. Some school districts plan to recruit thousands of substitutes but there’s concern about how effective temporary teachers will be for students. Lack of school staff and classroom safety issues from larger class sizes are major concerns for teachers in the Baltimore region.

More than 5,500 teachers statewide left their jobs in 2022 for various reasons, which has created a staffing crisis, data from the Maryland State Department of Education shows.

Chris Patterson is a teacher at Fort Worthington in Baltimore city, which serves students from elementary through middle school. Patterson said before the coronavirus pandemic her classes had about 35 students on average. Now she worries that she’ll have way more students this school year.

“When there are 45 kids and 50 kids, there’s no way one person can accommodate and or assist effectively in that space, ” Patterson said.

When there’s too many children it’s difficult for everyone to get enough attention to learn effectively.

“There’s no learning going on and the teacher is not doing their job. They are now just maintaining the space and that’s my fear,” she said.

About 13.3% of teachers across the state did not return to the same school between fall 2020 and fall 2021. The teacher attrition rate for Baltimore City Public Schools was 12% last year. The cost of turnover ranges between $9,000 and $21,000 per teacher for hiring and training, the state education department estimated.

Read more (and listen) at WYPR.