As students prepare to head back to school this fall, many local districts are still struggling to find enough teachers to fill their classrooms.
“At this point we are around, roughly, close to 300 teachers short,” Monifa McKnight, the interim superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, said.
McKnight said students will start next week. But Tuesday night, the principal of Wyngate Elementary School in Bethesda, Maryland, sent a note to parents saying some first graders still didn’t have a teacher assigned because of the shortage.
“We're hiring all the time every day and will continue to do so to make sure all of our vacancies are filled,” McKnight said.
The elementary school sent another note to parents Wednesday morning saying class sizes will be expanded to compensate.
“Having large first grade classes is not ideal, but having a class with no identified teacher is not the way I want our first grade students to begin their 2021-2022 school year,” Nichola Wallen, the principal, wrote.
Charles County Public Schools said they are 76 teachers short.
One mother, Shawna Marks, is particularly concerned about a note on the recruiting website that says to secure a position, “a teaching credential is preferred, but not immediately required.”
“It’s just mind-boggling that you're like, 'Oh no, you don’t have to have a teacher certification, just come on,' because I feel like it’s like, oh we need bodies, we need people,” Marks said.
According to the school system, Maryland law does allow them to give conditional certificates to teachers for up to two years.
In Virginia, Prince William County Public Schools will be doing so as well.
“All applicants have something to offer, even if you’re a brand new teacher,” Felicia Norwood, the supervisor for recruitment and retention of the school district, said.
Norwood said these days, fewer college students are studying teaching, and they’ve had to get creative to fill jobs.
“We are going to have to look at other people who have a passion to want to teach," she said.