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Staffing shortage hitting San Diego schools

Posted at 4:48 PM, Nov 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-22 20:20:14-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Getting people back to work has been an issue across industries coming out of the pandemic, and it turns out schools are no exception.

Silver Gate Elementary School first grade teacher Kristin Brown said these have been the hardest two years of her teaching career.

"The kids are wonderful, but everything else that goes with it is just impossible," she said.

Brown said the learning disparity between students grew during virtual classes last year. The students who tuned out from home fell further behind, while those who paid attention got way ahead.

"Of course I work with every student individually but those kids who can't even read 'at,' or 'an' or 'went' or 'the,' I'm going to have to work with them more," Brown said.

But what makes it even harder is the fact that if Brown and one other teacher on her campus are off the same day, her school is stretched to the bone. The P.E. Teacher or the principal will have to cover.

It's a phenomenon hitting school districts across the county. A wave of retirements during the pandemic led to more districts filling those positions. Like many fields, there's now a supply crunch of workers, and in education, fewer substitute teachers -- adding to the academic stress.

"It's like nothing I've ever done, these have been the hardest two years of my teaching career. It's exhausting," Brown said.

San Diego Unified says it has about 900 active substitute teachers. It's also hired one resident visiting teacher per campus, who can sub for anyone out, paying $285 per day and guaranteeing work for the year.