Friday, September 17, 2021

No membership: Denver metro districts scrambling to fill temporary teacher vacancies

Denver metro school districts are facing another challenge in returning to the classroom: they can’t find enough options to fill in when a teacher is absent.

The shortage was present before this year, but has increased during the pandemic – despite districts widening their pool of substitute teachers by hiring more. Districts are also facing staffing issues in other areas such as school nursing and bus drivers.

There is no single reason for the shortfall, the three districts said – some alternatives accept other jobs and others are worried about returning to the classroom due to COVID-19.

Till last week, there was an outbreak of COVID-19 in at least 80 K-12 schools in the state, affecting at least 126 staff members.

“We have a shortage of substitute teachers and this is exacerbated by COVID,” Cherry Creek School District spokesman Abbe Smith said in an email. The alternative is retired teachers, and many of them have chosen not to come back.”

During this time of the school year, the Douglas County School District is usually able to fill 90% and 100% of teacher absenteeism with an alternative. But in the past week, despite having a pool of more than 1,000 substitutes, the district could only fill 75% and 85% of absences, spokeswoman Paula Hans said in an email.

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No membership: Denver metro districts scrambling to fill temporary teacher vacancies
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