coronavirus pandemic

San Diego Schools Impacted By COVID-19 Staff Shortages

The COVID-19 surge has also affected teachers and there are not enough substitutes to fill all the classes

NBC Universal, Inc.

It has been a tough week for schools trying to keep the doors open for students to learn while cases of covid continue to rise.

Some schools in the San Diego Unified School District are having to put large groups of students together in one big space because they don’t have enough teachers.

The COVID-19 surge has also affected teachers and there are not enough substitutes to fill all the classes, meaning students are moved to the gym or theatre or the library with one person.

The district told NBC 7 sometimes it can be 100 kids depending upon how large the space is.

“The theater is a large room they do that, it's usually substituted. Kids are doing random stuff like walking around, playing basketball, or chilling out. Those kinds of classes aren’t structured, they are usually just substitute classes,” said Kobin Barcarse a student at Point Loma High School.

Barcase said while some don’t study others are able to work online while all together in bigger spaces and students are getting the usual in-person instruction from teachers who are not sick and who are often doing double duty.

“This is a very tough situation for teachers, for principals, for staff at schools. Everybody is being deployed into classrooms working with students, that includes central office staff,” Board Trustee Richard Barrera said.

Barrera said students in the large groups can maintain social distancing in the bigger spaces that he says have good ventilation.

Is he worried that putting kids in one room defeats the purpose of trying to stop the spread of COVID-19?

“What we do know is we've been successful throughout this year in not seeing COVID-19 spread at schools,” he said kids are safer at school, but the next couple of weeks will be really tough.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says she doesn't believe the U.S. has reached the peak of the omicron coronavirus wave impacting the country.

“It’s very difficult and from all indications, a surge is supposed to peak in the next couple of weeks but that means we can expect more positive cases of students and staff and more absences in the next couple of weeks,” Barrera said.

Barrera said everything they’re doing --putting kids in one large space to deal with high absenteeism among teachers --is to keep from shutting down.

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