FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — The issue of teacher shortages across the region seems to continually get worse as staff members are left frustrated with some school districts being forced to change their calendars.
“Across the country, we have a shortage of teachers. And it’s not just teachers taking off work across the country, we are losing teachers like no other time in history and it’s basically because of the lack of respect. Many of them are just tired, the workload has doubled and in some cases tripled," Leslie Houston, President-Elect of Fairfax Education Association said.
Houston said teachers were already tired before the pandemic, but COVID made things harder.
"You have teachers who can’t take leave because there’s a shortage of subs," Houston said. "So the question then becomes when does it end, where does it end?”
Houston said even in situations where teachers need to stay home there may not be anyone available to cover for them, leaving them no choice but to come to work anyway.
“I have heard that teachers do come to school when they are ill because there is no one to cover," Houston said. "And let's face it,aq as teachers we have a lot of empathy and we want to make sure the students are getting what they need and we also want to take care of our own colleagues.”
A spokesperson for Fairfax County Public Schools said FCPS is using an array of tactics to recruit subs, and an increased sub pay goes into effect this month.
"Like school divisions across the nation, FCPS is seeing a need for an increase in substitute teachers. To that end, in October the Fairfax County School Board voted unanimously to increase pay as much as $3 per hour for substitutes which goes into effect this month," an FCPS spokesperson said.
Like many other districts across the country, Montgomery County Public Schools is also dealing with what teachers are calling an understaffing crisis.
The shortage of substitute teachers is part of the reason Montgomery county had to cancel school the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
MCPS also changed its tune regarding its vaccine mandate, calling it a balancing act between the safety of students and employees with the need to be staffed.