Schools respond to staffing shortages


Pat Travis has been a permanent substitute this year, filling in for high staff absences.

Alaina Stewart and Josephine Duguid

The pandemic has not only affected families and people in general, but it has also affected schools. When the Omicron virus caused COVID numbers increased rapidly in December and January, teacher attendance went down quickly. Many teachers have been out with the virus or left because of the virus, which makes it hard to fill in the class with different substitutes and other teachers. Edison Intermediate School Principal Dr. Bolton knows that the current state of staff shortages and substitute teacher is troublesome. “I have a serious concern about the staff shortage not only in New Jersey around the country,” he said.

While the staff shortage is affecting the staff and teachers, it may not be having the same impact on students. Eighth grader Jaiya Leroy declared, “The staff shortage during Covid does not affect me personally because the amount of work has not changed.” 

A reason why this shortage might not be affecting some students is that teachers still work hard every day to create a lesson plan for the student’s curriculum. Teachers continuously have to make interesting lessons for the students even if they are home due to illness. Eighth grade ELA teacher Mrs. Swenson knows firsthand what it feels like to create lessons from home every day. “It is difficult because you’re not in the classroom, so things have to be modified and done differently. But it’s wonderful to have Google Classroom whereas years ago you would have to photocopy worksheets and leave them on your desk. Now everything has to be pushed out from Google Classroom. You do have to move things around to make lessons work without you, but it is doable thanks to Google Classroom.”

While COVID has affected many teachers causing a staff shortage, there are other very important people to the school that have been affected: substitutes. With teachers being absent more and more, substitutes have had to fill in for much more classes. Some permanent substitutes, that are here for the whole year, have some thoughts on the school staff shortage. Permanent substitute Ms. Janice Vena declared, “I do have to substitute a lot more classes because of the staff shortage, but I enjoy helping out whenever I can.” 

Substitutes have had a lot more work on their plates than in previous years. Permanent substitute Mr. Pat Travis said, “My usual is to substitute for two or three different teachers a day. The staff shortage has made my job more hectic because I have to move around so much. I go into a bunch of different classes. However, it’s also more fun because I get to interact with many more students than I did before.” 

In addition to having permanent substitutes to help during the whole school year, Dr. Bolton keeps his eye open to recruiting any new employees. “We try to actively recruit teachers and go to job fairs, and our Human Resources Specialist is on top of actively searching out the best candidates for jobs,” he explained.

 They also look into the younger “generation” of teaching candidates like student teachers. Dr. Bolton added, “There are people that we have recruited from college programs. We think student teachers are a great option because we train them, and if they are really good, we keep them for job openings.” 

The staff of Edison Intermediate School and other schools around the country have been working hard to keep educating students and feeding them the information they need during this hard time.