By: Emily Mao — School News Editor
As the start of the school year approached, students and staff were nervously anticipating what the year would look like. Because of the district’s decision to implement the hybrid learning model and teacher’s concerns about the school’s ability to maintain a safe environment, some teachers from all disciplines decided to take a leave of absence for the year or resigned for good.
Two English teachers, two history teachers, three science teachers, and a few from the foreign language department have taken either a short term and long term leaves. Science, math, English, and foreign language have had the most trouble filling their vacancies.
Juniors and freshmen were most impacted by this change. Many students who had substitute teachers for the first few weeks found that their classes consisted of going online for attendance and then logging off to do an online assignment that could be completed easily.
Junior Simone Dunbar, who was supposed to have Ms. Novick, says although not having class was easy and laid back, it definitely stunted her learning. “This is a critical time to be discussing the actual work we are supposed to finish this year,” said Dunbar.
Social studies coordinator Mr. Chuck Fazzio said that teaching classes without a teacher are a problem. “I can’t imagine it is very pretty or productive. Substitutes are filling in,” he said.
However, the search for teachers is not isolated to Sharon. “The problem is across the country. School systems are scrambling to replace teachers out on leave. And getting good, highly qualified teachers becomes more difficult as the pool of available teachers dwindles,” added Fazzio.
“All school districts are in a similar position, and we are still facing a pandemic, so there are not as many ELA teacher candidates out there,” said ELA coordinator Ms. Rebecca Smoler. She adds how she has had to check in on classes and post assignments as well as teach her own sections.
“Every class has a teacher right now that is in the building. In most cases teachers have picked up an extra section until we can hire someone to permanently fill the position,” said head of the science coordinator Ms. Emily Burke. What will likely happen for the rest of the year is that teachers will continue to teach the classes they agreed to pick up.
This increase in workload for teachers can be seen across the board, as many vacancies were filled by existing teachers by picking up an extra section. The state has also allowed teachers to teach classes outside of their disciplines for one year. Burke says that the process of hiring teachers includes posting the job position and interviewing applicants as quickly as possible.
Despite the rough start to the year, departments throughout the high school have successfully filled many vacancies, and students are getting started on their curriculums.“I appreciate the teachers’ support at the high school and middle school and the students’ patience while we were working to find teachers. Everyone has been amazing during this challenging time,” added Smoler.