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Staff shortages across Treasure Coast school campuses force districts to scramble

Substitute teachers contemplating whether to return at all
teacher stress
Posted at 10:15 PM, Sep 28, 2021

STUART, Fla. — A staff shortage across school campuses on the Treasure Coast has school district leaders scrambling.

"The first couple weeks of school, our entire instructional services department was out covering classrooms," said Jennifer DeShazo, spokeswoman for the Martin County School District.

In Indian River County, staff shortages due to quarantining forced two elementary schools to temporarily close down.

Martin County School District leaders said Tuesday that even their substitute teachers need substitute teachers.

"We have hundreds of substitute teachers on our roster, but because of the pandemic and different situations that are taking place on campuses, many of our substitute teachers don't want to come to school yet," said DeShazo.

"Our teachers are working very hard," said Karen Resciniti, president of the Martin County Education Association. "I would say that maybe we lost 100 and I think there are a lot of people contemplating coming back at all."

Resciniti said some teachers in Martin County have decided to retire early or explore other career fields.

District leaders said substitute bus drivers and food service workers are also desperately needed.

"We do have a system in place now in our district where, if an employee is identified as a direct contact, as long as they're asymptomatic, they may continue working," said DeShazo.

DeShazo said she hopes the new quarantine protocols will help alleviate staff shortages and that district leaders have gone as far as direct messaging student families looking for work to let them know about open positions.

"Right now in Martin, we're starting at $95, so it may be time to up the per diem pay for substitutes in our district," said Resciniti.