Montgomery County Public Schools teachers say they are overworked and exhausted due to a staffing shortage that pushed Maryland’s largest district to cancel classes the day before Thanksgiving.
The Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) says that if relief doesn’t come soon, teachers will start to resign.
Montgomery County Public Schools is short 161 teachers and more than 100 paraeducators, constituting an “understaffing crisis.” About half of requests for substitutes go unanswered, MCEA president Jennifer Martin said.
"What I'm concerned is the potential for a great resignation," Martin said.
Existing staff members say they are missing lunch breaks and planning sessions to cover classes that don't have teachers, according to the union.
Teachers are struggling to help students with learning loss and mental health issues caused by the pandemic.
Representatives from the teacher’s union held a press conference Tuesday to plead for relief.
“Every day educators stand up and show up in order to ensure that our students are receiving the education that our community is so known for providing. However, that is being taken advantage of,” Nikki Woodward, vice president of MCEA, said.
The teacher’s union is demanding $55 an hour for teachers covering extra classes.
Right now, they make $15 an hour for that work — or no extra pay for covering classes during lunch, Martin said.
The union also wants more early release days so teachers have more planning time, plus premium pandemic pay to attract and keep substitutes.
"There is no doubt that teachers are giving 100 percent and more,” a Montgomery County schools spokesman told NBC Washington’s news partners at WTOP.
The district is working with local colleges to hire December graduates, the spokesperson said.
The substitute shortage is already impacting Montgomery County families.
The district canceled classes the day before Thanksgiving, citing staffing shortages.