Over the last semester, Windsor, like many other districts in Missouri, has been struggling to cover classrooms due to COVID quarantines. Due to rises in positive cases and quarantines because of a new variant, finding staff and substitute teachers to fill in has been quite difficult.
Julie Martin, who is in charge of staffing, has had a tough time filling missing staff spots in a lot of Windsor classrooms, ranging from early childhood all the way to high school.
“It has been very hard to fill classrooms this school year. So far, the second semester has been harder than others, ” Julie Martin said.
Chris Martin, the administrative secretary at the high school, has to find teachers in the high school to fill in when the school is out of substitute teachers.
“Teachers are already expected to do so much. I don’t think there should be any extra expectations for them. They are here to teach our students, not babysit and not play nurse or doctor. We need to allow them to do their job, which is to teach the students in their classroom,” Chris Martin said.
Many teachers have been out because of testing positive or being exposed. Some teachers have young children that, if quarantined, need to be cared for at home. While all valid reasons, it makes staffing difficult. At one time last week, the high school reached a peak of 54 students out with COVID, according to the Windsor COVID Dashboard. At one time, Windsor Elementary had at least 12 staff members out as well.
Many teachers have been asked to cover other classrooms during their planning period or merge with another class to take on more students. This can quickly turn into a very stressful situation for everybody.
“Most school years there are a few days where covering classrooms was difficult. Last year and this year, most days are a challenge,” Julie Martin said.
Since COVID is still circulating, multiple schools in Missouri have made the decision to go virtual when they cannot find enough substitutes to cover. By going virtual for a week, it gives their teachers a chance to come back in time, and then the school is able to reassess their staff numbers to go back in person.
This has been the case for high schools throughout Missouri and in many other states.
In an attempt to attract more substitute teachers for this year, Windsor has added some extra benefits.
“The school district has increased guest teacher daily pay, added an incentive for a sub who subs 10 days consecutively, ads have been placed in the local newspapers, and I have sent flyers to local colleges/universities advertising ‘Guest Teacher Needed,’” Julie Martin said
The past two years have been frustrating for staff and students.
“Last school year and this school year have been the most challenging I have had in the last 25 years plus,” Julie Martin said.