COVID-19, quarantines have Minnesota schools scrambling for substitute teachers
November 11, 2020
Surging community spread of COVID-19 is sidelining a staggering number of teachers and school staff - and forcing many districts to shift to distance learning when there's no one to mind the classroom.
Across Minnesota, school administrators say measures like universal mask wearing, stepped-up hygiene and social distancing have been effective in keeping the virus from circulating widely within schools. But as COVID-19 cases rise outside school buildings, more school staff are ending up ill or quarantined because they or a family member spent time with someone who tested positive, usually at gatherings unrelated to school. And increasingly, districts are unable to find substitutes to fill in behind absent teachers, prompting them to staff classrooms with school secretaries and counselors, principals and classroom aides.
Since October, the St. Cloud Area School District has been averaging 50 to 60 staff members out on quarantine each day. Last week, that number jumped to 130, including teachers, bus drivers and administrators. Tracy Flynn Bowe, the district's executive director of human resources and labor relations, said the situation has been getting worse, showing no signs of leveling off.