Teacher Shortage

Winter break had just ended and a new semester had begun. Students came back to school expecting another normal week of school. It was anything but normal as, unknown to the students, teachers had quit throughout the school district or become ill with covid. 

 Teachers got urgent emails that they had to help fill in for classes due to their lack of substitutes. In RRISD alone there were 800 staff members absent Friday Jan.14 either due to COVID or quitting their jobs. 

With the teacher and substitute shortage, available teachers were asked to sub in. This decision affected teachers as they usually have a period to plan their next lesson or grade papers. Teachers who could spare a conference period got an extra $37.50 per class they covered.

“I have had to take some classes, but really I don’t mind it,” English teacher Christy Petray said. “Everybody’s been really kind about asking and giving me enough time to get to and from my destination and it’s nice as they weren’t paying us at first, but now they are paying us to take that extra class.”  

The majority of absences were COVID related. Only a few teachers resigned over the holiday, leaving their classrooms without a replacement.

“Between the fear of getting sick because we’re in a highly contagious environment and with all of the extra pressure this last year I think many were scared to come back,” history teacher Thomas Grim said. “All the digital teaching and just the way education has changed is also another cause and maybe some teachers couldn’t take it anymore.” 

Administrators had to find other teachers to take the places of the ones they lost. An engineering class has not had a permanent teacher since winter break. A Westwood teacher posts the assignments and gives grades, but the situation hasn’t been solved. 

“Since the teacher we have is at another school its hard to communicate,” junior Jamison Hovey said. “So, everyone is communicating more with each other and helping each other when someone has a question and it has really built a sense of community.”  

Administrators are already looking to fill positions for next year. The district will be giving current teachers a $500 retention bonus for staying in teaching and the board is considering a pay raise.

“They are going to do a job fair in April to get people interested and meet administrations from the different schools so that always helps us meet people who are ready to teach,” Assistant Principal Anne Roberts said.  “Other than that they have tried to do a kind of a retention bonus each semester to thank the teachers who are still here.”