Schools need solutions

Across Ohio, school districts are dealing with a darned if they do, darned if they don’t scenario in which sticking with in-person, in-building schooling has created nearly as many challenges as going fully remote did last year. Staffing shortages range from bus drivers to substitute teachers, with an administrator in Canton telling one media outlet the need for substitute teachers in every district is far outweighing the pool of people willing to take the job.

In Cuyahoga Falls, the superintendent told a WJKW reporter that in addition to needing teachers in classrooms and drivers for buses, there is also a problem with food service.

“We have nine restaurants, when you think about it,” said Cuyahoga Falls Superintendent Todd Nichols. Nine restaurants serving kids two meals a day, and they are short staffed.

Locally we have heard similar stories, particularly about the difficulty in finding substitute teachers willing and able to take jobs when doing so would place them in a risky position. Many of our substitute teachers are, after all, retired teachers who might fall into a more vulnerable age bracket when it comes to exposure to COVID-19.

“I’ll be honest, I don’t think it’s a rate of pay issue. I think it’s just a matter of people wanting to work in a public sector environment with a lot of other people around all at the same time,” Nichols said.

School districts all over the Buckeye State will have to come up with something. The disruptions caused by a lack of teachers, substitutes and support staff can be just as damaging to some kids as remote learning might be to others. Either way, we’re not doing right by our kids.

The rest of us can get vaccinated and do all in our power to stop this virus. But while they wait for communities to stop the spread, school districts are going to have to get creative if we are to avoid another nearly lost year for Ohio students.


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