Sherman ISD one of many districts across US facing pandemic related shortages

Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 6:30 PM CST
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SHERMAN, Texas (KXII) - How often in the past two years have we heard the phrase “due to the pandemic?” Here’s one more: schools across the nation are having to get creative to keep their doors open because their faculty and staff are calling in sick due to the pandemic.

Tuesday morning Sherman schools asked for patience. Several bus drivers called in sick leaving those remaining to pick up their routes. Meaning it took longer to get the kids to school, but that is just the start of what the district is dealing with.

“I think the shortage that we’ve seen recently has really been impacted by folks being out sick. We see it not only with drivers but we see it with teachers, substitute teachers,” said Tyson Bennett, Sherman ISD Assistant Superintendent of Finance & Operations.

Bennett said some positions like special education or bilingual teachers, bus drivers and food services are always the first to feel shortages.

“When you come upon a pandemic and you start getting in situations where folks are out sick, then that difficulty becomes even greater,” said Bennett.

Just over last few days, 14 bus drivers have called in sick.

“What we have to do, we have to combine routes, we may have routes that may be running late, things like that. And so we deal with it as best as we possibly can,” said Bennett.

The district recently raised driver pay to $20 an hour, but that doesn’t speed up the state licensing process. Bennett said driving your kids to school or carpooling if possible would help lighten the load.

“More than anything when we get into situations like this with folks being out sick it’s just being patient with us,” said Bennett.

In the classroom, they’re facing the same problem.

“We just really work to kind of put the word out to get as many folks signed up as subs as possible,” said Bennett.

Early childhood campuses went remote this week which freed up some teachers to fill in elsewhere. Other teachers, faculty members, certified parent volunteers and even retired teachers are filling in. It’s a team effort, Bennett said, not an easy fix.

“Everyone be patient, and I really think with this current situation with folks being out sick, impacted by Covid, just need to get past this next week and get more and more folks that are getting well taking care of themselves. And it’s gonna get a whole lot better here in the near future,” said Bennett.

Sherman isn’t the only Texoma school facing this problem. Whitesboro ISD had to close Tuesday. They said over 30 teachers were out and they only had 10 substitutes to fill in. You’ll remember last week when several districts had to close, and are just returning Tuesday. Check here for the updated list.

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