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Staffing shortages force schools across the state to return to remote learning

Several school districts across the state are being forced to move to virtual learning because...
Several school districts across the state are being forced to move to virtual learning because there just aren’t teachers and staff to provide instruction, meals, and transportation.(WBRC)
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:12 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Several school districts across the state are being forced to move to virtual learning because there just aren’t enough teachers and staff to provide instruction, meals, and transportation.

So, what’s being done to fix the problem?

This is yet another symptom of the pandemic.

State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Eric Mackey, didn’t have an exact number, but said at least a dozen school districts across the state are switching to remote or virtual learning because there are so many adults out of school; many of whom are dealing with COVID.

Dr. Mackey said he’s very concerned right now because so many schools are shutting down in-person learning.

He said keeping schools open is the gold standard because students learn best in the classroom in front of their teachers, but he said it’s just not safe for some schools to remain open.

Dr. Mackey said Alabama has an acute shortage of teachers because of the tight labor market, but it’s not just teachers.

It’s principals, cafeteria workers, and school bus drivers.

So, even when only a handful of adults need to be at home for whatever reason, it puts a strain on the school system.

Dr. Mackey is hopeful most schools will be able to return to in-person learning on Tuesday following the MLK holiday.

He’s hoping that students learning from home for a few days will help flatten the curve and prevent more learning loss.

“We’re going to have to play it by ear, but if we go into February and we still have schools that are going remote, you know, a dozen or two dozen or more a week, then certainly we’re going to have to start thinking about what’s going to be the follow up for those folks in the summer learning programs, what’s going to be the follow up in after school programs next year,” Dr. Mackey said. “What are we going to be able to do to make sure that students have the supports they need to get caught up?”

Dr. Mackey said it’s important for school districts to make decisions individually about whether to require masks.

He said he doesn’t foresee any mandates for masking or vaccinations in the near future.

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