Surge in COVID-19 cases causing staffing shortages in Texoma schools

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:32 PM CST
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SHERMAN, Texas (KXII) - Whether you’re on the Oklahoma or Texas side of the red river, there’s one problem that doesn’t stop at the border.

“We’re seeing shortages with substitute teachers and subs just in general,” said Arena Blake, the director of communications for Sherman ISD.

“We’re unable to hire the subs that we need,” said Hugo Public Schools Superintendent Earl Dalke.

“We’re struggling to find subs,” said Brian Eaves, the Denison ISD spokesperson.

Sherman and Denison ISD’s, plus Hugo Public Schools, all said teachers are calling in sick with COVID-19, and when they turn to substitutes for help, there’s not always enough of them.

“We’re covering those with people on campus and bringing in substitutes, but as you can imagine, that pool is very limited,” said Blake.

Sherman ISD said on Wednesday, 143 staff members were absent.

Fifty-two teacher positions did not have a substitute.

The shortage is forcing schools to get creative just to keep in-person learning going.

“It’s kind of that it takes a village to raise a child situation,” said Eaves. “Well, we’re in that it takes a village to run a school.”

Some schools are splitting classes up among teachers, and others have administrators fill in, even principals at times.

But in Hugo, staying open wasn’t an option.

“We were unable to staff the school and staff the buses in order to get the kids to school,” said Dalke. “We decided to close down until the day after Martin Luther King Day.”

Dr. Dalke said 15 percent of the faculty and 25 percent of students tested positive for the virus, and going online is the best thing they can do to keep students learning.

“We’ve had a serious labor shortage, not just a teacher shortage, but also a general labor shortage,” said Dr. Dalke. “It’s absolutely a struggle right now to employ the people that we need in our schools.”

Sherman has started an add-on rate for subs, and Hugo has also raised their sub wages to get more people interested in subbing for them.

And the shortage doesn’t stop at subs.

Many districts are hiring for everything from bus drivers to groundskeepers and cafeteria workers.

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