Indian River County schools adjust to staffing shortages

An orchestra class at Storm Grove Middle School in Sebastian on Jan. 19, 2022.jpg
Posted at 3:32 PM, Jan 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-19 23:24:58-05

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. — The COVID-19 pandemic has placed unique stresses on our local schools, creating a daily juggling act to make sure all the classrooms are covered.

Sean Thompson has been pressed into service to lead a sixth grade orchestra class at Storm Grove Middle School in Sebastian. He said the kids helped quell any anxiety.

"Even though I was making mistakes they were saying, if you do it this way that will help us. They wanted to be part of the process which was great," Thompson said.

Thompson is one of nearly 100 district staff that has received training to go into the classroom as a substitute.

"We’re at a time where we’re using an all hands on deck approach," said Superintendent Dr. David Moore.

Moore said just since the new year, they’ve seen almost as many teachers come down with COVID as they had the first four months of school.

"We want to ensure we have consistent instruction. This pandemic has disrupted education and we want it to stop," Moore said.

Brandon Bass went from digital media specialist to first grade teacher.

"Kind of rewarding. You did get to teach them something and they seemed to respect me so that was really cool," Bass said.

For Anitra Cummings, this week has been a homecoming. She was back teaching third grade at Treasure Coast Elementary School, where she previously taught for four years.

"Just want to make sure when you’re walking into that space those kids feel at home, you don’t want them to feel that, oh I've got another sub. You want to be just as uplifting and motivating for them," Cummings said.

Moore said this proactive approach by plugging staff in where needed has kept schools running.

"At the end of the day, they find a newfound appreciation for what teachers do on a daily basis," Moore said.

While the executive order from the governors office prevents any mask mandates involving students, staff and any adult visitors to any Indian River County campus will need to mask up at least until the end of the month.