PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) – The Pflugerville Independent School District says it is experiencing a significant shortage of substitutes. The district will soon begin deploying central administrative staff to help fill the gaps.
“The submarines that we have had in the past and the submarines that actually work are just appalling,” said Franchesca Mejia, teacher in the ISD Pflugerville Orchestra.
Mejia is also head of department at Conally high school. Currently, finding a substitute teacher is done with very little notice.
“If you are feeling sick, physically, mentally, or have an emergency, you should be able to stay home without the guilt or the pressure of having to come home,” Mejia said. “I feel like I have to come to school and suck it all off, because I know there aren’t any subs. ”
“We have about 650 replacements that are in our systems, but we only have about 150 of those signing up each day to fill some of these jobs that are needed,” said Tamra Spence of Pflugerville ISD Communications.
Spence says the district needs around 250 submarines each day to meet the needs of its students and class.
“Our leadership team, which includes our superintendent and the cabinet – they will be serving in the classroom starting at the end of January,” Spence said.
“We are going to run out of teachers”
During his public health briefing on Wednesday, Dr Mark Escott, interim health authority for Austin-Travis County, suggested it might be time for in-person learning to end.
“We’re going to quickly see that we’re going to run out of teachers to provide in-person education,” Escott said.
Escott also called high capacity schools a “recipe for disaster.”
“It’s going to be a struggle for the institutions right now, for schools and other institutions, to control the epidemics that we have been able to control in the past,” he said.
Neighboring neighborhoods are experiencing shortages
The Taylor Independent School District in neighboring Williamson County has closed one of its district schools due to the increase in positive COVID-19 cases.
“Due to the increase in positive cases of COVID-19 with staff members, Taylor Middle School will transition ALL students to distance education starting January 14, 2021. Taylor Middle School will return to teaching in person for the students who made this choice on Monday, January 25, 2021. All other TISD campuses will remain open for in-person teaching.”
Nine faculty and staff at Taylor Middle School have tested positive for the virus, representing about 12.6% of its staff according to the district.
“For our step three protocol, we say that if we hit more than 10% in an individual zone out of prudence, we would go virtual,” said Keith Brown, superintendent of Taylor ISD.
Round Rock ISD discusses the risk premium
The Round Rock Independent School District says it recognizes the domino effect of COVID-19 on its teachers and staff. On January 14, the administrators approved a 7-0 one-time lump sum payment of $ 500.
The money is aimed at reducing staff turnover and retaining and supporting its staff members for the remainder of the school year, according to a Jan. 13 announcement.
“This public health crisis has necessitated the development of innovative plans to prevent employee attrition and turnover and to retain qualified and motivated teaching and support staff. Round Rock ISD recognizes that the administrative protocols and learning models necessary to support in-person and distance learners due to the COVID-19 pandemic have required additional workloads and challenges associated with each position within the district. We recognize that this overtime and the challenges unique to the ongoing pandemic have created a need to take corresponding action to retain and support hard working and dedicated staff during these uncertain times.“