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Staffing shortages forcing Washington Local Schools to go virtual Friday

Superintendent Dr Kadee Anstadt announced the change Wednesday, stressing the district's staffing levels will be dangerously low Friday, and this is the best choice.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Local school districts are feeling the sting of staffing shortages and Washington Local Schools is shifting to virtual learning this Friday.

"It's literally, it's duct tape and glue right now," Washington Local Superintendent Dr. Kadee Anstadt said.

She told WTOL 11 she foreshadowed in her newsletter on Monday to parents that this was a possibility. She says she doesn't want to do this, but also added they just won't be able to have a full staff to do ensure the best educational experience possible Friday.

All students in every school will be virtual.

School districts like Washington Local are working hard to piece together enough staff on a daily basis. But they're not alone, Oregon City schools put out a call on social media for help.

"People came into the school year worried about shutdowns due to COVID," Oregon superintendent Hal Gregory said. "The more of the reality is shutdowns due to staffing shortages."

Gregory says his district is in desperate need of substitute teachers for all grades. The pay is $125 a day, one of the highest in the area according to Gregory. Right now, you need a bachelor's degree. But that is something they're trying to change to a high school diploma so more people are eligible.

"We're talking to our representatives and our lobby groups to see if we can get that pushed through," he said, "Because that will help broaden the pool for schools."

But Anstadt stressed it's not just substitute teachers.

"Nutrition, custodian, bus driver, monitor, secretaries, nurses, all of that, we are very, very short," she said.

Both Oregon and Washington Local will pay you to help out with the other positions. But Gregory says you'll be doing more than just getting a paycheck.

"If you have some time, you know, you're not going to get rich off of it," he said. "I totally understand that but maybe it's something you feel you can do for a short amount of time to help us out."

Anstadt says on top of staffing, COVID is growing as a threat to younger unvaccinated students and she fears it could get worse.

"I just want to be done," she said. "I don't want to have to send another card to go to another funeral for another staff member and, my god help us, if it's a kid."

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Anstadt says she's noticed an increase in COVID-19 cases among younger students with 228 confirmed cases so far this year. That is the total amount of cases the district saw in all of last school year.

Teachers have lost their planning periods between classes and in some cases, breaks to help fill the void and step up with staff shortages.

"It's custodians who are stepping into roles in the lunch room to make sure kids are safe," Anstadt said. "It's bus monitors, it's bus drivers, everybody is going well beyond what they can do. And I guess I ask myself the question how long can a system take that kind of pressure."

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That pressure is coming on the heels of a lot of hiring that happened this summer as well. But Anstat says there's just not enough workers for them and other districts as well.

Anstat says if you are able to help in anyway, please contact Washington Local Schools or your local school district.