The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools system is working on a plan to address staff shortages in some key departments as it deals with rising COVID-19 cases in the community.
The district currently has 957 substitute teachers on the roster. But they want to grow that pool. School officials say not all of those teachers signed up for remote learning training, several are retired and at risk, while others have kids of their own they're assisting at home.
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools is also seeing more COVID outbreaks since reopening classrooms this month for some younger grades.
“And then the wildcard admittedly in all of this are the quarantines,” says Jevelyn Bonner-Reed, the district's chief HR officer. “So, due to positive cases and close contacts they've increased over time, and one of the main things is the challenges in maintaining social distance.”
Bonner-Reed says many of those teachers who felt well enough to teach while in quarantine switched to virtual learning and principals have been moving around teacher assistants to help cover the gaps. Those concerns are growing as more grades are expected to return in January.
The district will hold a virtual hiring event for teachers on December 5.
District officials say teacher vacancies are higher than they were this time last year (August-Nov. 2019) — something they're keeping an eye on. There have been a slightly higher number of retirements, but teacher resignations are down compared to that same time period last year.
Bonner-Reed says similar challenges also remain for bus assistants. The district hired an outside staffing agency to help fill these positions. In the past two weeks, they've gone from 12 to 121 bus assistants.
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