School Systems Continue To Fight Staffing Shortages and Covid

As covid continues to grip the community, some schools are talking about moving to remote learning again, with some already doing it.

DULUTH/PROCTOR, Minn. — The Duluth Public Schools, and Proctor school transportation systems are few of the many impacted by covid. Aside from positive cases, the staff shortages are also playing a role in having to move things around, to keep the learning going.

As covid continues to grip the community, some schools are talking about moving to remote learning again, with some already doing it.

The Laura MacArthur Elementary School will be one of the first ones having to switch to remote learning through next Monday, but only for grades 3 through 5.

The superintendent of Duluth Public Schools tells us it’s a combination between already not having enough staff members, and others being sent home due to covid exposure or symptoms. The school district is hoping to avoid a full return to remote learning.

“Our intention is really to stay in person, and do as much as we can to stay in person. When it simply becomes unsustainable at a certain site or level, we look at how can we close the least amount of classes as possible and still keep in person for everybody else,” John Magas, Superintendent of Duluth Public Schools said.

Aside from the classroom, the school transportation system is also suffering from the lack of staff and covid issues.

“We had a shortage of drivers anyway coming in, there were quite a few drivers who retired last year, so we are being creative on how we cover runs,” Tanya Kessler, Director Of Transportation, Proctor Public Schools said.

They are having to look at those routes and potentially designate new ones, as the lack of drivers sometimes makes it hard to cover each one.

“We are piecing together parts of one route, and parts of another route, putting them together, having drivers do extra. Myself and my head mechanic bob are both driving on most days at least part of the day if not all day,” Kessler said.

But staff at the transportation companies aren’t the only ones having to fill in.

“We’ve stepped in for a number of different positions, and by no means do I want this to be about me, it’s really been the entire staff, in so many schools, people have stepped up in different ways, our principles, our para professionals, our teachers, everyone in the system has been going the extra mile,” Magas said.

Many teachers and school staff are either home with symptoms, or quarantining after exposure, but those absences have led schools to find creative alternatives too.

As many school districts around the country face these staffing shortages, administrators are encouraging their communities to apply for jobs with the schools to help out, whether that’s driving a bus or substituting in a classroom.

“It would be enormous for us, it would give our drivers that we have now, that haven’t had a day off all school year because they’re devoted to those kids, it would give us a lot of relief,” Kessler added.

The proctor school bus system is currently looking at hiring at least 2 or 3 more drivers, you can call or visit the website to apply, all that’s needed is a clean driving record and background check.

Also, anyone interested in helping out their local school district is encouraged to simply apply on their website.

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