As COVID surges, substitute teacher staffing dwindles at Central Valley schools

KSEE24 News

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — As COVID-19 cases surge in Fresno County, school districts Thursday are saying the case numbers in schools are rising as well.

Clovis Unified School District’s COVID-19 dashboard shows a total of 345 cases in August, with 253 of those being in students.

Central Unified says there were 139 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in the first 27 days of August, including 128 cases amongst students.

Fresno Unified reports a total of 549 cases in the month of August, including 430 students diagnosed.

“While the numbers represent a very small percentage of our over 70,000 students and over 12,000 employees, every number is a human being, so it absolutely concerns us,” said Nikki Henry, Chief Communications Officer for Fresno Unified School District.

As case rates continue to rise, more Fresno Unified students are opting for online learning.

“At the end of July, we had about 250 enrollments in our eLearn Academy. Once school started, we have seen that number jump now to over 3,400 enrollments,” said Henry, “So that makes eLearn Academy the largest school in Fresno Unified.”

The COVID-19 surge is also putting a strain on teachers.

“We recently asked our teachers to use one word to describe the way that they’re feeling, and the overwhelming results were things like exhausted, overwhelming, tired, stressed,” said Manuel Bonilla, president of the Fresno Teachers Association. “It’s that overlay of not only trying to do your best to provide for the educational needs of the students but then also trying to provide for the health and safety needs of that student.”

Meanwhile, school districts across the Central Valley are experiencing an urgent need for more school staff. Fresno Unified is using a commercial and a billboard to recruit substitute teachers. The advertisements say the pay is approximately $135 to $163 per day.

Henry said the district is possibly looking to increase the pay range, or to add other incentives meant to motivate people to apply as substitute teachers.

To apply as a substitute teacher at Fresno Unified School District, you need a resume, two letters of reference, unofficial transcripts, and your sub permit or credential.

If you need help, you can call (559) 289-4599 or visit the Human Resources office at 2309 Tulare St. any weekday from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

If you need a sub permit, you can contact the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools at (559) 265-3005.

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