FAIRFAX COUNTY, Virginia. – Parents are worried as we are now less than a month away from the first day of school and many districts in the region are scrambling to fill teaching positions.
“It’s also concerning because we’ve just come out of the pandemic. And these are kids who have lost a lot of in-person schooling,” said a parent who has two elementary school children.
Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid says she is working hard to fill remaining vacancies to ensure every classroom has a licensed educator.
In a letter recently sent to parents, Dr. Reid says his classrooms are currently 97% staffed.
“I feel like there was already turnover in my kids’ schools. So if there’s been an increase, that’s a problem,” the mother said.
David Walrod is the president of the Fairfax County Teachers’ Federation. Despite Reid’s letter regarding vacancies, Walrod worries about the upcoming school year.
“That still means there are hundreds of classrooms that don’t have a teacher right now,” he said.
According to the FCPS website, the district employs more than 15,000 teachers, which means there are at least 450 open positions.
Walrod said: “These are the positions that work with some of our most needy students. Teachers who are Title 1 schools, teachers who work with special education students, ESOL students. These are usually the positions most difficult to fill.”
If the district doesn’t fill those positions, Walrod thinks it may have to pull staff from elsewhere.
“People like math and reading coaches and technical specialists, who are asked to cover lessons, which means a lesson is covered, but that means teachers don’t get the support… Students don’t get not part of special education,” he explained.
The shortage is not unique to Fairfax County. Almost all commonwealth schools need teachers.
In a recent social media post, Alexandria City Public Schools posted an article looking for language and special education teachers.
“The last two years have been really tough,” Walrod said. “With the COVID situation, you are starting to see attacks on teachers by certain parts of the population and teachers are never paid as much as comparable professionals in other fields.”
The mother-of-two tells FOX 5 she’s optimistic.
“I hope we will have high quality teachers. I hope we can fill the void; I know the county is doing its best, but they need teachers to do their best,” a- she declared.
Dr. Reid’s full letter can be read via the Fairfax County Public Schools website.