Wake County Schools

WCPSS: Principals should ask for help if they are experiencing staffing shortages before considering remote learning

Posted January 11, 2022 5:14 p.m. EST
Updated January 11, 2022 7:27 p.m. EST

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Principals of Wake County public schools who think they may fall so short on staff that they'd have to switch to remote learning should call on district administrators for help before making that call, according to a memo sent Tuesday to principals.

If 20% of all of a school's staff are absent, a school should call their area superintendent and ask for help to figure out how to still hold school without switching to remote learning. That recommendation comes from a district human resources committee.

The area superintendent can help a school figure out options for reassigning staff or other measures to allow in-person learning to continue. Schools can switch to remote learning, but that's not the first path officials will explore.

District spokeswoman Lisa Luten said only one or two schools hit that 20% threshold this week. None chose to go remote.

Luten said the only students who have switched to remote learning is one eighth grade at one school, where the number of students being quarantined was high enough to prompt the change.

The memo, reviewed by WRAL News, also says schools with 20% or more of employees absent don't need to call their area superintendent.

Schools, per State Law 2021-130 passed this summer, can shift to remote instruction if COVID-19 exposures results in too many staff absent to continue operating in-person or in the event high numbers of students need to quarantine.

Schools have been creative with high employee absences so far in 2022. Luten said one school that wasn't able to hire enough substitute teachers turned their instructional assistants into substitute teachers and asked parents to volunteer to supervise the lunch room.

Bus driver shortages from COVID-19 cases and quarantines have led to long lines in front of schools during drop-off and pick-up. Luten said Tuesday's shortage was about the same has in recent days, around 150 drivers. Many drivers have picked up extra routes to avoid any cancellations.​

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