A West Virginia county that borders Loudoun County, Virginia, said that it will temporarily dismiss students early every Friday because of staffing shortage.
Jefferson County Schools said Wednesday that staffing shortages have “significantly affected our staff time to complete critical behind-the-scenes work” and forced existing staff to cover multiple positions every day to “ensure student safety and services.”
Starting Oct. 15 through Nov. 19, students will be dismissed a half-day. The staff will get three hours of “encumbered time” work on planning, deep cleaning, class material preparation, IEP/SAT meetings and other work.
“While we know this will be an inconvenience for our parents, it will serve many purposes that will enhance the quality of the time their children are in school,” the school system said.
Jefferson County schools’ open positions average 150.5 per day, with the largest vacancy and absences on Fridays with an average 187.
The average “fill rates” with a substitute is 51%, and on any given day, there are 74 vacancies/absences that are covered by people filling in on top of their regular jobs, Jefferson County schools said.
The school district enrolls more than 9,000 students.
The shortage includes not only teachers and counselors, but also custodians, cooks and bus drivers. The D.C. area is experiencing a similar shortage of these workers, as well.
The school system said it will continue to give breakfast and lunch every day, including Fridays, for children who need them.
School officials believe that after six weeks, circumstances may change; and the school system is actively recruiting for staff, including teachers who will graduate in December.