How did COVID-19 school closures impact school-based SLPs’ job satisfaction?

Kelly Farquharson, Florida State University, USA (
Sherine Tambyraja, The Ohio State University, USA (
Jaumeiko Coleman, The Atlanta Speech School, USA (

Background: Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) provide speech therapy to children of all ages in a variety of clinical settings. Across clinical settings, SLPs were impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic.  In fact, an ASHA Leader article reported that the profession was “changed forever” (Law et al., 2020). There were many issues that suddenly arose as awareness of the virus grew – a lack of personal protective equipment, fear of contracting the virus, a rapid pivot to telepractice without training, and a constant sense of uncertainty.  For SLPs working with children in early childhood and in school settings, school closures created additional issues, including lack of internet services at home, difficulty contacting parents, and virtually managing an already complex caseload.

Aim: The purpose of this study was to explore how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted job satisfaction for school-based SLPs who were providing services to children in early childhood. Job satisfaction is important for therapy quality, with early childhood research showing that SLPs who are unhappy in their jobs delivery poorer therapy.  To ensure the highest quality of services for children in early childhood, it is essential to ensure that SLPs report being satisfied with their jobs. 

Method: A four-part web-based survey was distributed via social media and listservs.  Participants included 1308 SLPs who followed the link to the survey. Of those, 1013 had complete responses and 266 had partially completed responses. As such, for some questions, we have responses for 1279 participants. Twenty-nine participants left the survey before answering the first question. Ninety-six percent of the sample identified as female, 1% as male, 0.1% as transgender male, and 2% chose not to provide this information.  All states except for Alaska were represented, with the most respondents from California (n=102), Texas (n=89), Massachusetts (n=84), Florida (n=69), and Illinois (n=64). Participants worked in both public and private schools including preschools, elementary, middle, and high schools.

Results: On a scale from 0-100, with 0 indicating very unsatisfied and 100 indicating very satisfied, SLPs responded to four questions specific to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In general, how satisfied are you with how your school/district is handling COVID-19 physical distancing precautions Mean = 64.14, median 70, range 0-100 (N=1050); With respect to the services that you are being asked to provide, how satisfied are you with what your school/ district is asking of you?  Mean = 51.30, median 50, range 0-100 (N=1041); How satisfied are you with the amount of time that you had to prepare to begin delivering services in a new way in light of COVID-19 physical distancing precautions?  Mean = 36.61, median 30, range 0-100 (N=1029); How satisfied are you with the amount of support that you have to begin delivering services in a new way in light of COVID-19 physical distancing precautions? Mean = 37.47, median 30, range 0-100; Results: (N=1013).  Additionally, SLPs responded to a general 17-item job satisfaction survey. Following that general survey, SLPs were asked to indicate if their job satisfaction pre-COVID would have been the same, lower, or higher.  Results: Same = 38.6% (n=488); higher = 41.3% (n=522); lower = 4.6% (n=58). 

Conclusions: COVID-19 negatively influenced job satisfaction.  Preliminary correlation analyses indicate that job satisfaction was negatively associated with the percentage of no-shows for teletherapy sessions. 

Implications for children: It is important to be happy in your job.  Your speech-language pathologist has been working hard to make sure that you get to practice your speech while we keep safe during COVID-19.

Implications for families: It is important to communicate with your child’s speech-language pathologist about your availability and when you need to cancel.  Our results support that missed sessions (“no-shows”) negatively impact job satisfaction, which ultimately can lead to SLPs leaving their jobs.

Implications for practitioners: Your job satisfaction matters.  There are aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic that are out of your control and are decreasing job satisfaction across the United States.  It is important to communicate with your administration about your experience.

Key words: COVID-19, well-being, education

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: