NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — As many students return to the classroom this week, school districts face a reoccurring challenge: a shortage of teachers.

It’s a real issue happening nationwide, including in Connecticut, but how bad is it this school year? The short answer is the problem isn’t getting any better.

“It is a very real crisis,” Jocelyn Delancy, the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) vice president, said. “We are starting the school year with classrooms that do not have assigned teachers.”

“Connecticut is suffering from a desperate teaching shortage,” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said.

The teacher shortage stems from many factors, including stagnant pay, burnout from the COVID-19 pandemic, and school violence.

“Some are going to work closer to home,” Hartford Public Schools’ Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez said. “Some are going to a district that has a different pay scale. There are some who are saying it’s really challenging in an urban context, and in this moment, I need something different.”

The teacher shortage is not just impacting urban districts. It’s also an issue in the suburbs.

“The challenges have changed since COVID,” Old Saybrook’s Superintendent Jan Perruccio said. “We’re having staffing problems in the suburban districts, which we did not experience in the past.”

But the question is, are we worse off this year with staffing shortages?

“We’re hearing that it’s consistent with last year,” the president of the CEA, Kate Dias, said. “It’s not like we’ve had a surge, unfortunately, of people to the state, yet we’re hopeful. But I think we have consistent challenges. We haven’t significantly improved our situation.”

News 8 looked into the number of teacher openings in 10 school districts. Below is the breakdown of openings as of last week.

According to the state Department of Education, those shortages are the most significant in special education, math, science and bilingual education.

“There’s work to be done to incentivize, increase our salaries and to ensure that teachers in Connecticut are in the best possible position,” Dias said.

As for a solution to this persistent problem, educators told News 8 that boosting teacher’s pay is a good place to start.