Since the end of August, the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools district has filled more than half of its classroom vacancies.
But as of Tuesday night, there are still about 37 open positions in classrooms, as well as 38 for teacher assistants.
Chief Human Resources Officer Leslie Alexander says there are 13 recruitment events scheduled between now and mid-December. But until those positions are filled, she says the district needs to take measures that may be less than ideal.
That includes a contract with Proximity Learning, a company that will livestream certified teachers into 25 math and science classes with vacancies. In-person facilitators will be in the classrooms along with the virtual instructors.
“This is not an area that we want to have to be in. We don’t want to have to necessarily do this, but this is really like a National Guard event,” Alexander said. “They provide, you know, assistance when there’s a domestic emergency. And this, in our opinion, is a domestic emergency. Children need to have instruction in front of them.”
The Board of Education unanimously approved the contract with Proximity Learning, but the district is implementing other strategies to deal with vacancies too.
Alexander says the district is paying existing teachers to take on extra classes or students where help is needed. Other certified staff members are going into schools with vacancies to provide support too.
A few public speakers at the Board of Education meeting voiced concerns about giving teachers more work, the challenges of virtual learning, and the need for better pay.
Alexander says the district is working to build a pipeline of educators and provide competitive compensation so these emergency strategies aren’t necessary in the coming years.
Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.