NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — You’ve probably heard the words ‘teacher shortage’ quite a bit this year.

“This is nothing new for educators across the state of Tennessee,” Tennessee Education Association (TEA) president Tanya Coats said. “This is just a recurring factor that there is a teacher shortage that has been going on well before the pandemic.”

Coats moved to Nashville from Knoxville just a few weeks ago. With the school year starting soon, Tennessee has about 2,000 open teaching positions, according to the TEA president.

“We have been disrespected, demoralized and we were once revered as heroes before and during the pandemic,” Coats said.

But now, we may start to see some people fill those positions. On July 1st, SB2702 went into effect, allowing retired teachers to step back into the classroom without a huge hit to their pensions.

“This is one of the best-laid plans the state of Tennessee has decided to take on,” Coats said. “[Calling on] retired teachers and letting them come back into the classroom without affecting their retirement benefits.”

The bill allows former teachers to come back while collecting 70% of their retirement allowance. It also lets them keep their benefits, like insurance, saving money for school districts.

“We are placing well-educated veterans back in the classroom, and they’re not getting dinged on their benefits,” Coats said.

She also said it’s a great temporary solution, but it’s going to take more to get people to fill the open roles.

“We would like to be respected,” Coats said. “We would like to have really good benefits and just paid a little bit more than we’re paid on the national average.”