HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — With teachers out due to quarantine or illness, SC for Ed, an education advocacy group, said it’s putting a strain on staff during what’s already a statewide teacher shortage.
Not only is the number of Horry County Schools students in quarantine rising, but so is the number of teachers. According to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard, 184 staff members are in quarantine — 132 of which have COVID-19.
“We’re seeing a lot of very understaffed schools,” said Steve Nuzum, a teacher and SC for Ed research director. “I don’t think I know anyone who feels like their school is adequately staffed at this point.”
Nuzum said the teacher shortage has been an ongoing problem for years.
“It’s a major problem and of course COVID is making it worse,” he said.
He said the problem is getting much worse and he sees no signs of improvement next year unless some sort of action is taken.
Amber Wooten, and Horry County Schools teacher, said “teacher shortage” and “substitute shortage” have become buzzwords.
“They’re starting to lose that potency of what it really looks like,” Wooten said. “This is no longer like a slow bleed that we’ve had before. This is quickly becoming a hemorrhage and it’s happening in real time.”
With teachers in quarantine or sick, other teachers and staff members are being pulled.
“Administrators are put in a position where they need to scramble and come up with plans and a lot of the times recently, that’s pulling teachers from their planning periods to come in and cover the missing teacher’s class,” Wooten said.
“They’re having to bring basically anyone they can find, who’s a warm body into a classroom to cover for somebody who’s out,” Nuzum said.
Nuzum said he worries this will take a toll on teachers and substitutes and cause them to leave the school district or teaching altogether come next year.
“I think a lot of teachers are at the end of their rope and they just feel like there’s no healthy way for them to continue in this job,” Nuzum said.
Wooten said in years past, teachers could rely on a substitute but that isn’t the case anymore.