MERCER COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — In 2018, teachers around West Virginia went on strike for better pay. Now, five years later, teachers are struggling with a familiar foe.

Nearly three-fourths of teachers and 85 percent of principals are experiencing a frequency in job-related stress. 

According to the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America Survey, 60% of individuals living in the United States reported work was a top source of stress in their lives. 

In a survey conducted by The American Federation of Teachers, 30,000 teachers revealed that 89% said they were enthusiastic about teaching when they started the profession.

Only a mere 15% reported being enthusiastic at the time they completed the survey in 2018. 

Elizabeth Jenkins, a Pre-K teacher at Fairdale Elementary School, says Covid has played a very detrimental role in the education field. With more standards, more guidelines and stress, teachers have an even heavier weight on their shoulders.

“I know that during the lockdown, there were a lot of guidelines. We were teaching virtually online which is extremely hard to do. Of course, even last year we were teaching in masks and that is extremely hard to do,” said Jenkins.

There are an array of factors contributing to the high rates of stress and burnout in the education field. 

Studies suggest some of the most common sources of teacher stress include a heavy workload, high responsibility of others, poor physical space and paperwork.

Madison Brooke Sears, a Concord University student who aims to be a teacher, says that teachers worry not only for themselves, but they also have the strain of their students on their minds as well.

“It can be very daunting to go into something that you don’t know if you are going to come out alive. You also have your kids that you care for, and you worry for their safety, and it is a very emotional thing to be experiencing,” said Sears.

The National Education Association describes teacher burnout as “a condition in which an educator exhausted the personal and professional resources necessary to do the job.”

Karen Griffee, a distinguished Professor of Psychology at Concord University, says there is a new fear that teachers have now that they couldn’t even imagine a decade ago.

“Now faculty are afraid to anger the students or upset a student because you might get shot. That is something I couldn’t fathom 25 years ago,” said Griffee.

The ongoing expectations and criticism educators face is an uphill battle. Though many are ready to face this fight with their chins held high.