Texas – Some North Texas schools are facing teacher shortages as the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus continues to spread across the state adding a lot of cases in the last couple of days.
Despite the fact that majority of the schools are doing everything in their power to keep the in-person learning, some of them might be forced to switch to virtual learning because a major number of North Texas teachers are positive on Covid-19.
The teachers shortage problem is not something new in the North Texas area and schools managed to hire a decent number of new teachers over the last few months. In addition to hiring new teachers, the schools are offering different kinds of incentives to attract much-needed substitute teachers.
But with Omicron in place, some school district might face serious issues when it comes to staffing shortage because the Omicron infects everyone, unvaccinated, fully vaccinated and those recovered from the virus.
Robert Abel is Chief of Human Capital Management for Dallas ISD. He says the district has 2,200 active subs. He says financial incentives have helped to bolster numbers.
“We increased our substitute pay rate up to $100 for our non-degree and up to $110 for our degree of certification,” he said.
Plus, there’s an additional $50 per day through the first week of February. Dallas ISD has also hired an additional 300 teachers since Oct. 1.
However, that might not be enough since a lot of the existing teachers are concerned lately despite all the safety protocols implemented in the schools.
Fort Worth ISD is also offering incentives to teachers and they are currently operating with around 90% of the total number of teachers they have. According to the district, they managed to hire nearly 60 teachers at the last hiring fair.
The district has also increased substitute pay another $5 for working on Mondays and an additional $10 for working Thursdays of Fridays, which are days with a high teacher absentee rate.
“This spring, we’re incentivizing subs using a six weeks incentive where we pay them an additional bucket of money if they work a consecutive number of days per six weeks,” said Fort Worth ISD Chief Talent Officer Raul Pena
In the last few days since the start of the new year, not only teachers are getting infected, but a lot of children, students are also developing symptoms and are testing positive with Omicron.
Meanwhile, some schools may divide up classrooms if a teacher is out sick, sending those students to another teacher for that day.
Both majority of the parents and schools are looking forward to continue with in-person teaching and will try to do everything they can to prevent switching to virtual learning.