Schools temporarily shift to remote learning due to staffing, substitute teacher shortages

Classroom Progress Report

WATERVLIET, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Just like restaurants and stores, schools, which were already short staffed prior to the pandemic, are also begging for help. And that means that some districts are once again shifting back to remote learning — at least temporarily.

In Watervliet, the problem began two days ago when Principal Ryan Groat says the Watervliet Junior Senior High School began receiving calls.

“It ended up being staff that were in the same boat as everyone else where they were finding out their own children were being quarantined so they had to stay home with them,” he said.

But things got more complicated as they could not find any substitute teachers to fill in the gaps.

“Everybody is looking for subs. There’s a shortage. So, we just didn’t have enough people to cover our classes.”

The only solution he said was to shift the 11th and 12th graders to remote learning for few days.

NEWS10’s Anya Tucker asked Groat how the district can sustain an in-person learning environment with an ongoing staffing shortage over the next couple of weeks and possibly months.

Groat responded, “Yeah, that’s what we are all fearful of.”

Watervliet is in the same boat as most other districts. When recent quarantines had Mechanicville City Schools short staffed they also switched to remote learning for a few days.

It was then that Superintendent Bruce Potter made a public plea asking for certified and non-certified substitute teachers to join their team.

Non-certified substitute teachers do not have a license to teach. They must have a high school diploma or GED and must be able to pass a background check.

Potter says the response has been great, and they currently have 27 candidates.

As for Watervliet, they are getting help with the return of two retired staff members and a 2012 Watervliet High School graduate named Ryan Donlon.

Donlon says he is very busy working every day at the school, following lesson plans laid out by the teachers.

He told NEWS10’s Anya Tucker that he has worked as a non-certified sub in the district for four years as he pursues a degree in school counseling.

“There’s always something that you can go home and say, this kid did this and it was awesome. And it makes you feel really good.”

But districts like Watervliet could really use many more Ryan Donlon’s right now.

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