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The Thanksgiving break has been extended for hundreds of thousands of public school students across the country, as the number of teachers in schools falls short of critical mass. The situation has become so dire that some districts are considering withdrawing previous COVID-19 vaccination requirements for employees.

In western Michigan, 20 schools canceled classes for the entire week.

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In Chicago’s District 65, classrooms were also closed due to the holidays. Students in Montgomery County, Maryland will have an extra day this week, while the public school system is now revising its vaccination policy to soften staffing issues. The Montgomery County School District tells Granthshala News that 463 staff members who have not certified their immunization status will have to do so or face loss of pay as of November 24, as well as progressive disciplinary action, “up to and including termination.” Is.” Rather than immediate termination, it is “an act of balancing act between safety and the need for all staff for school and office operations.” It comes as districts across the country are attempting to tackle the massive void in teachers and replacements in the classroom.

Ohio school districts affected by food and staff shortages: ‘really tough’

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According to a survey conducted in October by the Adweek Research Center, only 5% of administrators reported not experiencing staff shortages, while 45% considered their district’s shortages to be “very severe” or “severe.” Labor Department data shows that in September alone, 30,000 teachers of government schools submitted their notices.

Jennifer Martin, president of the Montgomery County Education Association, said, “The fact that we have fewer employees means that teachers are having to stretch their days beyond the normal workday, and it becomes an unsustainable situation.”

Martin, who is also an English teacher, told Granthshala News she fears COVID-19 stresses are forcing the profession she prefers to have a “great resignation”.

“If you want to find a job that gives you a work-life balance that pays well and where you are respected for your professionalism. Right now, it is very much a question of whether this is something you want to do as a teacher. as can get,” he said.

School districts across America canceled due to staff shortage, parents uneasy

The Edweek survey pointed to the need for substitute teachers for the most pressing for schools. Barry Jagger, associate superintendent of the Clovis Unified School District in California, told Granthshala News he had to fill in the class.

Addressing the labor shortage has proved a difficult hill for the Department of Education and Secretary Miguel Cardona. The 2021-2022 school year was supposed to be a welcome return to the classroom, but many families and teachers feel that the routine has not yet recovered, widening gaps in student education and socialization. In a statement to Granthshala News, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education said they are “fully committed to providing schools with the resources they need to learn full-time, in-person learning. As we recover from the pandemic, Effectively recruit and retain critical staff including teachers, paraprofessionals, mental health professionals, substitutes, school bus drivers and school social workers to support student success, engage parents and families and grow our economy essential for.”

The row of empty desks in front of the whiteboard.  Classroom interior at school.

The department wrote that mitigation strategies include “raising wages, offering hiring bonuses for teachers and support staff, and providing permanent wage increases or premium pay,” adding that the Treasury has a resource that Clarifies that many retirees, or those who are soon eligible for retirement, are now able to work classes while still receiving their pension. The statement continued with a pledge to provide assistance to school districts to help them understand “how to fully use the American Rescue Plan and past relief funds to attract and stabilize their workforce.” “

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Montgomery County alone has received more than $252 million in Federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III funding. The county has tentatively scheduled a public hearing for November 30 to discuss the school district’s request to allocate most of those funds to address staffing issues.

A mother adjusts her child's face mask as she enters St. Lawrence Catholic School on the first day of school after summer vacation, north of Miami, on August 18, 2021.  (Photo by Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

“It’s like the historical record of funding for schools and we’re still going to have all these problems,” said Carol Vidal, a member of the Baltimore County Parents and Student Coalition. “We harassed teachers, harassed parents, students are not getting good education.”

The coalition includes more than 4,000 members and was initially created to re-open Baltimore County schools, but Vidal said their focus has since broadened, adding that “we just realized there was a bigger system that could help families.” very different from the needs of

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In Baltimore County, families were informed that during Thanksgiving week, the district would reduce some school schedules to include just one day of instruction instead of two. Vidal said that the shortage of staff was not directly mentioned, but the reason for the cancellation was given to the teachers as leave.

She fears the rolling closures will continue and schools are now using distance learning as a crutch that turns the stress on parents who have to scramble to support their children at home: “Most The bigger problem is for people who are low-income and have unstable jobs.”