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Coronavirus pandemic making it harder to find teachers at Virginia Beach public schools

Officials say the pandemic, combined with the national teacher shortage, mean teacher vacancies.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Teacher shortages remain an issue this school year, and officials at Virginia Beach City Public Schools say the coronavirus pandemic isn’t making things any easier. 

According to figures from the division, there are more than 170 unfilled positions throughout the division and nearly half are teaching positions.

Coordinator of Recruitment & Retention for Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Anne Glenn-Zeljeznjak, pointed to a shrinking pool of graduates as the cause, explaining her district isn’t immune to the problem. 

“We have a national teacher shortage," she said. "That has been advertised or spoken about across the country and that includes Virginia, of course.” 

According to the latest figures provided by the district, there are 181 vacancies at Virginia Beach public schools: 69 are teaching, 71 are school bus drivers, and 40 are custodians.

School officials admit the pandemic has “definitely” made filling vacancies more challenging.

Glenn-Zeljeznjak said, “And then of course we have the changes in our current instructional model with the virtual and the face-to-face and some of those mitigating circumstances where we need to make sure those numbers in the classroom are meeting state guidelines for social distancing.” 

So how are officials combating the issue and finding teachers? Glenn-Zeljeznjak said the district is recruiting recent graduates and out-of-state teachers, and exploring in-house options by examining whether any present staff fits the criteria to become a certified teacher.

“We’re looking at staff who could potentially be eligible for a license, which means they would be able to apply for a provisional license. And a provisional license is still a license that is certified by the Virginia Department of Education,” she said.

“The most important thing is to make sure you’re qualified for the position. Although somebody may be interested in... just use a school bus, for example. You may have driven a large vehicle in some other capacity but you have to have specific licensing and training to drive a school bus.”   

Officials say the district is interviewing and hiring every day.