More than nine out of 10 teachers and principals have expressed fears about returning to work, according to a survey for a union.
Some who responded to the poll for the Ulster Teachers' Union, which represents 6,000 teachers here, said they were considering retirement rather than return to their schools.
However, the UTU said teachers were keen to get back to work - although it has to be done safely.
The survey was published as the Department of Education set out its plans for a phased restarting of the education system in August.
Members were asked to respond regarding their own circumstances, fears and concerns about the Covid-19 situation.
The survey of more than 2,500 UTU members, the majority of them working in primary schools, carried out this month found that:
Writing in Friday's Belfast Telegraph, Ulster Teachers' Union president Stephen McCord said: "Although we all want to see children back in class, this will involve a balancing act between their learning and their health and wellbeing, for what happens in schools in terms of the virus will inevitably be reflected in the wider community, in the children's families - in our families.
"Young people need to be in class, but not at the expense of health and lives. Too many have been lost already.
"The last thing we want is for schools to open too soon or unprepared and then have to close again, throwing families into yet more turmoil.
"The collaborative approach the department and the EA [Education Authority] are taking with us will enable us all to be assured that areas of concern are being thoroughly investigated and resolved."
The survey also highlighted a range of other issues:
One teacher told the survey: "If school budgets are anything to go by currently then staff will not be protected efficiently.
"I feel school staff are going to be used as 'guinea pigs' regarding reopening of schools whilst there still is no treatment/vaccine.
"Staff sickness is already high in schools and so there will be even more staff shortages which will put even more pressure on those who are in work.
"Schools struggle to get enough soap, paper towels at the best of times - there needs to be a severe ramping up of PPE provided for teachers as well as allowing cleaning staff to have appropriate time to deep-clean each classroom effectively."
Teachers were also worried about managing hygiene issues, and shared their fears about how difficult they felt it would be for schools and equipment to be kept free from contamination by Covid-19.
"Who will ensure surfaces are cleaned regularly?" one teacher asked.
"How can we mark work that children are handling safely?
"How can we enforce social distancing in dinner hall?
"How do we ensure items children bring in from home are virus free, for example school bags, coats, food, homework, pencils, etc?"
We miss the children and we want them back! However, as we begin to consider what a return to the classroom setting will look like in the next academic year, parents, children and teachers must be assured that schools are safe spaces before this can happen.