California school districts adjust to COVID-related teacher shortages amid omicron spike | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools



COVID-19 cases continue to climb at schools across California, forcing thousands of staff into quarantine and many districts to adjust their health and safety policies. “It’s exhausting,” said Sacramento teacher Mara Harvey, who is also president of the Natomas Teachers Association. “There’s not enough bodies to deal with the situations we have on campus.”Harvey said with many faculty members and students calling out sick, the remaining staff must carry double the workload. “I think a lot of teachers are running on empty,” she added. ” a whole new level of anxiety for teachers that I don’t think anyone has ever worked with before.”It’s a reality also felt at Folsom Cordova Unified. Families and staff there received notice on Wednesday afternoon that temporary school closures could be on the way. “We have no plans to return to long-term distance learning,” wrote a spokesperson. “But we need to make modifications as to how we operate.”Going forward, all Folsom Cordova students who share a classroom with someone who is found COVID-19-positive will be notified. “A big challenge now is how widespread omicron is in our community,” said Victoria Flores, director of Student Support and Health Services. “We know the mental health benefits for our students being in school, and we are doing everything we can to protect that.”Sacramento City Unified processed a record 33,000 COVID-19 tests just last week, the district told KCRA 3 on Wednesday. In response to the surge, the district issued new guidelines this week for student extracurriculars. Effective immediately, unstructured activities with large gatherings such as field trips, dances, rallies, and food fairs are banned temporarily. | RELATED | Sacramento schools limit extracurricular activities due to ongoing COVID-19 case spike”We are hopeful we will lift that pause as soon as we get through this wave,” Flores said.Activities among the same group of students such as; athletics, band and drama may continue. In Elk Grove, there are also staffing challenges. School authorities said there are more requests for substitute teachers than there are available substitutes to fill the openings. They said they have been able to fill shortages as they come up and that additional staff who could help have also been identified if necessary.”What we are seeing is a significant impact in full-time employees ending up with illnesses,” said Xanthi Solario, director of communications.The district expects to get more guidance from public health officials in the coming days. In Stanislaus County, school officials said the number of calls and emails from staff testing positive is increasing. “HR staff are following up on contact tracing, reporting positive cases to local public health and notifying any staff when they may have been in close contact,” said district spokesperson Judy Boring. “We are wearing face masks indoors, encouraging washing hands frequently, disinfecting surfaces in common areas, and sending emails with information on locations and times of vaccine clinics and testing weekly.”Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed COVID-19 challenges in schools while visiting a testing site in south Los Angeles on Wednesday. The state was able to provide 10.9 million tests in the last 30 days to California public schools, but had to compete against the federal government for those tests, he said. Nine million N95 masks were also sent to public schools over the last few weeks, as the priority is to keep in-person instruction safely in school, Newsom said.| MORE | California makes it easier to hire teachers amid shortages, omicron spreadStill, some teachers wonder if these measures will be enough.”You see in the community they are canceling large events, you have to stay away from crowds … in our line of work that’s not an option,” Harvey said. “No matter what, we’re in a classroom with students.”

COVID-19 cases continue to climb at schools across California, forcing thousands of staff into quarantine and many districts to adjust their health and safety policies.

“It’s exhausting,” said Sacramento teacher Mara Harvey, who is also president of the Natomas Teachers Association. “There’s not enough bodies to deal with the situations we have on campus.”

Harvey said with many faculty members and students calling out sick, the remaining staff must carry double the workload.

“I think a lot of teachers are running on empty,” she added. “[There’s] a whole new level of anxiety for teachers that I don’t think anyone has ever worked with before.”

It’s a reality also felt at Folsom Cordova Unified. Families and staff there received notice on Wednesday afternoon that temporary school closures could be on the way.

“We have no plans to return to long-term distance learning,” wrote a spokesperson. “But we need to make modifications as to how we operate.”

Going forward, all Folsom Cordova students who share a classroom with someone who is found COVID-19-positive will be notified.

“A big challenge now is how widespread omicron is in our community,” said Victoria Flores, director of Student Support and Health Services. “We know the mental health benefits for our students being in school, and we are doing everything we can to protect that.”

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Sacramento City Unified processed a record 33,000 COVID-19 tests just last week, the district told KCRA 3 on Wednesday.

In response to the surge, the district issued new guidelines this week for student extracurriculars. Effective immediately, unstructured activities with large gatherings such as field trips, dances, rallies, and food fairs are banned temporarily.

| RELATED | Sacramento schools limit extracurricular activities due to ongoing COVID-19 case spike

“We are hopeful we will lift that pause as soon as we get through this wave,” Flores said.

Activities among the same group of students such as; athletics, band and drama may continue.

In Elk Grove, there are also staffing challenges. School authorities said there are more requests for substitute teachers than there are available substitutes to fill the openings. They said they have been able to fill shortages as they come up and that additional staff who could help have also been identified if necessary.

“What we are seeing is a significant impact in full-time employees ending up with illnesses,” said Xanthi Solario, director of communications.

The district expects to get more guidance from public health officials in the coming days.

In Stanislaus County, school officials said the number of calls and emails from staff testing positive is increasing.

“HR staff are following up on contact tracing, reporting positive cases to local public health and notifying any staff when they may have been in close contact,” said district spokesperson Judy Boring. “We are wearing face masks indoors, encouraging washing hands frequently, disinfecting surfaces in common areas, and sending emails with information on locations and times of vaccine clinics and testing weekly.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed COVID-19 challenges in schools while visiting a testing site in south Los Angeles on Wednesday.

The state was able to provide 10.9 million tests in the last 30 days to California public schools, but had to compete against the federal government for those tests, he said.

Nine million N95 masks were also sent to public schools over the last few weeks, as the priority is to keep in-person instruction safely in school, Newsom said.

| MORE | California makes it easier to hire teachers amid shortages, omicron spread

Still, some teachers wonder if these measures will be enough.

“You see in the community they are canceling large events, you have to stay away from crowds … in our line of work that’s not an option,” Harvey said. “No matter what, we’re in a classroom with students.”

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