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Virginia Beach school leaders introduce changes to address teacher shortage, burnout

The adjustments include an additional holiday, 2-hour early student release on certain Wednesdays and a substitute teaching requirement for central staff.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A shortage of teachers nationwide and close to home is taking a major toll. So much so, some local school divisions are making adjustments to ease the burden on their employees. 

Virginia Beach school leaders are the latest in Hampton Roads to introduce changes in their calendar and workflow.

School administrators said that 300 instructional positions are unfilled.

The workforce shortage is not unique to the school division, but leaders are working on solutions.

One way they want to alleviate the shortage of substitutes comes in a new requirement for members of central support staff.

Starting November 1, administrators with teacher licenses — like Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence, for instance — will serve in classrooms four times each.

"To substitute on high-volume days on Mondays and Fridays, minimally through the end of the semester," Chief Schools Officer Dr. Eugene Soltner. 

RELATED: Chesapeake school board addresses overworked teachers, staff vacancies, new testing protocol

Beach central staff who don't have teacher licensure can volunteer up to four days as custodian, teacher assistants or office associates.

Kathleen Slinde, president of Virginia Beach Education Association, faced the school board Tuesday, voicing concern about pacing and workload.

"Teachers are in a situation where no matter how focused or attentive they are to the curriculum's pacing guidance, they just cannot achieve them," said Slinde.

Leaders want to ease some of the burdens by announcing November 24 as a holiday for students and staff. 

They also proposed a series of early release days for students to make more time for lesson planning. School board members approved this measure for certain Wednesdays, including: 

  • November 17
  • December 1
  • December 15 
  • January 5 
  • January 13 
  • January 26

RELATED: After a tough year and a half, Suffolk Public Schools work to ease burden for teachers

Suffolk Public Schools will implement a similar kind of measure. They are going to alternate Wednesdays for early release, starting November 10 through the end of the school year. 

"They're working hard to try to meet the needs of every student," said Board Member Beverly Anderson. 

Administrators also mentioned that other recommendations about compensation and new initiatives are under consideration.