The New York Times published an article recently by Natasha Singer–one of the best reporters on education issues in the Times–about the toll that the pandemic is taking on teachers. An extraordinary number say the burden of teaching remote classes and in-person classes is not sustainable. Large numbers of teachers are planning to retire, or have retired.

All this fall, as vehement debates have raged over whether to reopen schools for in-person instruction, teachers have been at the center — often vilified for challenging it, sometimes warmly praised for trying to make it work. But the debate has often missed just how thoroughly the coronavirus has upended learning in the country’s 130,000 schools, and glossed over how emotionally and physically draining pandemic teaching has become for the educators themselves.

In more than a dozen interviews, educators described the immense challenges, and exhaustion, they have faced trying to provide normal schooling for students in pandemic conditions that are anything but normal. Some recounted whiplash experiences of having their schools abruptly open and close, sometimes more than once, because of virus risks or quarantine-driven staff shortages, requiring them to repeatedly switch back and forth between in-person and online teaching.

Others described the stress of having to lead back-to-back group video lessons for remote learners, even as they continued to teach students in person in their classrooms. Some educators said their workloads had doubled.

“I have NEVER been this exhausted,” Sarah Gross, a veteran high school English teacher in New Jersey who is doing hybrid teaching this fall, said in a recent Twitter thread. She added, “This is not sustainable.”

Many teachers said they had also become impromptu social workers for their students, directing them to food banks, acting as grief counselors for those who had family members die of Covid-19, and helping pupils work through their feelings of anxiety, depression and isolation. Often, the teachers said, their concern for their students came at a cost to themselves.

“Teachers are not OK right now,” said Evin Shinn, a literacy coach at a public middle school in Seattle, noting that many teachers were putting students’ pandemic needs above their own well-being. “We have to be building in more spaces for mental health.”

Experts and teachers’ unions are warning of a looming burnout crisis among educators that could lead to a wave of retirements, undermining the fitful effort to resume normal public schooling. In a recent survey by the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers’ union, 28 percent of educators said the coronavirus had made them more likely to leave teaching or retire early.

That weariness spanned generations. Among the poll respondents, 55 percent of veteran teachers with more than 30 years of experience said they were now considering leaving the profession. So did 20 percent of teachers with less than 10 years’ experience.

“If we keep this up, you’re going to lose an entire generation of not only students but also teachers,” said Shea Martin, an education scholar and facilitator who works with public schools on issues of equity and justice.

A pandemic teacher exodus is not hypothetical. In Minnesota, the number of teachers applying for retirement benefits increased by 35 percent this August and September compared with the same period in 2019. In Pennsylvania, the increase in retirement-benefit applications among school employees, including administrators and bus drivers, was even higher — 60 percent over the same time period.

In a survey in Indiana this fall, 72 percent of school districts said the pandemic had worsened school staffing problems.

“We’ve seen teachers start the school year and then back out because of the workload, or because of the bouncing back and forth” with school openings and closings, said Terry McDaniel, a professor of educational leadership at Indiana State University in Terre Haute who led the survey.

I have not quoted the entire article. The point is clear: This nation is facing a teacher shortage of monumental proportions because of the pandemic.