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VBCPS faces high numbers of teacher absences, creates 'all hands on deck' plan to keep kids in schools

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Posted at 6:18 PM, Jan 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 22:11:15-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Schools all across Virginia Beach are seeing high numbers of absent teachers, with many quarantining or isolating after being exposed to COVID-19.

The Virginia Beach School Board says the high number of absences is the school system's biggest obstacle in its commitment to keeping schools fully open. To keep schools open, Virginia Beach City Public Schools have developed a three-step staffing shortage intervention plan.

Level one of this three-step approach includes moving specialized instruction staff, like library specialists, to fill in for absent teachers.

Once absences reach level two, up to 50 central support staff members will deploy to schools with vacancies. According to VBCPS, the staff members will deploy on a rotating basis to target schools.

Level three is the same as level two, but up to 100 central support staff will be deployed. This is what school board leaders call an "all hands on deck" approach.

Despite this plan, staff still spoke out at Tuesday's meeting, with one Landstown High School math instructor saying this puts an unrealistic workload on teachers — so much so, some of her colleagues are leaving the profession.

"Today I mailed a 'goodbye and good luck' card to a math teacher who resigned and did not return after the holiday break. Jenny was a career switcher who was in her first year of teaching, and she decided that the workload and the toll the job was taking on her and her family was not worth it," said Dawn Euman, the secretary of the Virginia Beach Education Association and a teacher at Landstown High School. "Let's be honest, Jenny didn't resign over money. She resigned because the workload is unrealistic."

If an "all hands on deck" approach becomes necessary, parents will be notified of the high probability of school closure, which will last for at least three days if needed.

Following those three days, the school board will meet with the Virginia Department of Health to discuss the best time and plan for reopening.

At this time, all Virginia Beach schools are open and masks are required for all students and staff.

Click here for more Safely at School coverage.