INDIANAPOLIS — Getting back to in-person class and putting virtual learning in the rear-view mirror is on the Christmas list of many Central Indiana students and parents, including Sharlee Little. Her two North Central High school students have spent the majority of this school year in a virtual classroom.
"It's OK for them, they can do it. We have physical space to do it, but it's a struggle. It's hard to pay attention to a ZOOM thing for six hours a day," said Little.
Students were initially removed from classrooms to stop the spread of COVID-19, but now the pandemic is impacting school staffing. "We have seen a substantial decline in what we refer to as our substitute fill rate," Matt Kaiser said.
Kaiser is the director of human resources for Washington Township Schools on the Indianapolis north side. He says there have been days this year when the district was so strapped for teachers, and without enough substitutes, that they had to pull administrators out of their offices and into the classroom.
"Pre-COVID, days we typically would be into an 80 to and 85-percent fill rate, and during this time period we have seen those numbers dip into 40 to 45-percent so we often will have multiple positions in buildings that are not covered," said Kaiser.
The staffing battle in Washington Township is not at all unique. It's an issue districts across the state are dealing with every day. "I would say based on the feedback that we are hearing it is a critical need," said Brad Beckner.
Beckner is with Kelly Education, a company 30 Indiana school districts use to find substitute teachers.He says the demand for more substitutes is extremely high, as well as calls for substitute bus drivers, custodians, and other support staff.
"Substitute teachers, instructional professionals, to support educational excellence and student achievement is critical, but that can't happen without the additional support for the other positions that are required for a school district to operate successfully," Beckner said.
While many schools are holding all virtual classes online, they too still need substitute teachers and instructional assistants to help with E-learning right now.
If you are interested in subbing in a classroom or bus route you can check the employment section of each school district's website or go to .http://mykellyjobs.com/ to see a job openings at multiple school districts.