Osseo School District Copes with Staffing Shortages
Many schools across Minnesota face staffing shortages amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. The state’s COVID-19 test positivity rate has expanded to 16.6%, higher than the record CCX News previously reported Friday. The wave of new cases has led to an increase in teacher and staff absences in the Osseo School District.
“Our previous bad day or high number in Osseo was about 350 staff absences. Last Friday, there was almost 600,” said Kelly Wilson, president of Education Minnesota-Osseo, the district’s teachers union.
Wilson said some teachers got new jobs because of distance learning, while others are out sick because of COVID or they have to quarantine because of exposure.
“They’re just concerned about getting COVID, concerned about the expectations and the exhaustion and the mental and physical wear on themselves that a lot of times they are resigning,” explained Wilson.
There are not enough substitute teachers to cover the shortfall. Some teachers use their prep time to cover other classes. People at district offices are also filling in. So, it’s all hands on deck, said Wilson.
In Minnesota, all substitute teachers are required to have a four-year degree and long-term substitute teachers must be certified teachers with some expertise in the subject they are assigned to teach. The Osseo School District is offering incentives to bring in more subs.
“They’ve offered not only increased pay, but bonus pay or stipends if you sub five days a week,” said Wilson.
Meanwhile, officials are hoping COVID-19 case numbers decrease, ending the vicious cycle.
“We’re just exhausted, and unfortunately, some people are questioning how long they are going to be able to continue at this pace,” sadly Wilson said.