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'It's a staffing issue': Indiana schools struggle to stay open as COVID call-outs continue

Posted at 10:53 PM, Jan 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-15 08:41:02-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Students in multiple school districts across the state wrapped up their school week learning from home, and it's likely more schools will have to make similar calls next week as COVID cases continue to surge.

Vice President of the Indianapolis Education Association Jack Hesser says schools are struggling.

"What we are seeing right now is a collapse," said Hesser. "We are seeing so many people having to call out or just testing positive."

On top of that, he says districts are having a hard time finding substitutes and bus drivers.

This week, multiple school districts say these staffing issues forced them to move class online.

"It's a staffing issue," Hesser said. "We don't have enough adults to be able to safely have school."

He says a local central office has been working in schools to try and fill the void, but it's not helping.

"We still didn't have enough human bodies to be able to stay open and I think that underlines the situation we are in right now. How wild and out of control this really is," he said.

With staffing stretched thin, contract tracing is difficult, even in smaller school districts.

"It's very, very time-consuming," said Dr. Tania Grimes, Superintendent of Southeast Fountain School Corporation. "And when you have multiple students in a day, it can be a full-time job for someone on some days."

Hesser says it can be frustrating for parents and staff when schools switch to remote learning.

"What teachers don't want to have happen are these last minute split second decisions where it's ten min before the school bell rings and a pivot to remote occurs," said Hesser.

He hopes districts come up with a plan to give families enough notice in the future.