LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – America’s students are returning to school following the coronavirus pandemic, but in many cases, there won’t be enough teachers joining them.

“I think everyone is aware that districts have been having more and more trouble filling needed roles, especially in high demand areas,” according to Dr. Deborah Boyd, Dean of the College of Education for Lipscomb University in Nashville.

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Boyd tells CBS affiliate WTVF there needs to be more of an emphasis on recruiting new teachers.

“Entering college freshmen and sophomores are choosing the teaching profession less often and at a fairly significant rate. So, compared to the number of college freshman who are entering teaching in 2004 and 2005, the one who are entering it in 2018, 2019 is a considerably lower number,” she says.

Boyd says the reasons vary, including recruiting and retention challenges and a lack of support in the classroom. But the biggest factor is low pay.

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Public high school teachers in the United States earn approximately 19.2 percent less than other college-educated workers, according to a 2020 report by the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank.

“You’re going to have to figure out how to entice people to get into the field,” says Professional Educators of Tennessee Executive Director and CEO JC Bowman. “Money changes behavior and lots of money changes lots of behavior.”

And now the coronavirus pandemic is making the situation even worse. At the beginning of the 2020 school year, about one-quarter of all teachers said they intended to leave the teaching profession by the end of the year, according to a survey from the Rand Corporation. That compares to a normal year’s usual 8 percent rate of attrition, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

The biggest need areas are for specialty teachers such as those in special education and the math and science fields. Dr. Boyd says much is at stake.

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“The impact of high quality teaching is economic opportunity, it’s community growth. It’s our future. And so, the impact of not having those teachers would be the opposite of that.”