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Vaccines for younger students may help city & county recruit substitute teachers

Published: Nov. 5, 2021 at 3:56 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Albemarle County and Charlottesville schools say a shortage of substitute teachers is nothing new and has only worsened since the coronavirus pandemic began. But, a vaccine for young students is new, and could be a factor in helping bring more staff into schools.

“Concerns over COVID-19, and health issues related to that for the past year really have been a significant depression on our ability to recruit substitute teachers,” Albemarle Co. Public Schools Spokesperson Phil Giaramita said. “When we talk to teachers who have substituted in the past, they talk about concerns not only about their own health, but also childcare issues.”

Beth Baptist with Charlottesville City Schools says there are shortages across the board.

“It’s not just teacher subs that we need: We need custodial subs, we need nutrition worker subs,” Baptist said.

There is good news on the horizon that may help the problem: Both city and county schools are reporting a decline of COVID-19 cases, and vaccines for children ages 5-11 will be available as early as this weekend in the Blue Ridge Health District.

Giaramita says the vaccination rate is high among students ages 12-18 eligible for a shot in the county.

“At least in Albemarle County, we’re up to about 80% of those youth being fully vaccinated, and those numbers continue to climb,” he said. “If we see that kind of performance in the age group of 5 and 11, I think from both a psychological and from a health standpoint, would be a big boost.”

Roughly 80% of that age group is fully vaccinated in Charlottesville, too.

There are other things both school districts are starting to do to continue recruitment efforts. For example, Charlottesville City Schools voted Thursday, November 4, to increase substitute teacher pay to $20 an hour. CCS also lowered education requirements to allow those who have not attained a college degree to substitute.

“If people are saying, ‘Well, gosh, they’re lowering the standards.’ No we’re not. We are lowering a barrier to have people who would like to be part of our schools be able to do that,” Baptist said.

Both CCS and ACPS are working with the Blue Ridge Health District to eventually host clinics for students to get their shot in school. Information on available vaccine appointments can be found here.

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