Substitute teacher shortage strains Atlanta schools

Atlanta is offering a bonus for substitute teachers who agree to return to the classroom.

Some are reluctant, citing the pandemic. Those instructors tend to be mature, retired teachers. At age 60 or older, the cash they can earn is not worth the risk of possible infection. 

One who has some health issues agreed to speak about it. 

"It's difficult enough keeping the little kids' hands clean," she said. "I figured I won't go back at this time." 

RELATED: DPH says half of Georgia's recent COVID-19 outbreaks traced to schools

Principals have conducted meetings telling their full-time staff about the shortage of substitutes. 

Because of this, teachers who want to take vacation may have to submit a second or third choice to get time off scheduled. 

RELATED: Georgia sets pandemic high for new COVID-19 cases as kids hit hard

At some of the schools, an unplanned absence of a full-time instructor has left teachers supervising not one, but two classes. 

"There goes your social distancing," said Verdaillia Turner, president of the Atlanta Federation of Teachers. 

Turner believes staffing issues will get worse in the coming weeks, leading to more stress on the full-time staff. She would like to see more options for cyberlearning. 

But in a statement released by the superintendent's office, administrators say they are doing a good job handling covid, including initiating testing for all staff. 

"We have not experienced teacher absences to the point of impacting the district's ability to provided face-to-face instruction." 

APS is offering a bonus of $500 in an attempt to lure substitute instructors back to class.

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