MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. – In response to a substitute shortage tied to COVID-19 cases, the Montgomery County School Board made the decision to move a portion of students to remote learning.
Students in grades 7-12 will switch to virtual instruction starting Monday, Dec. 21, until Thursday, Jan. 21.
Montgomery County is facing a significant substitute shortage among teachers and aides due to staff being out of school in connection to COVID-19.
On Thursday, there were 145 vacancies and 118 substitutes needed and only 82 vacancies were filled, leaving 36 staff members without substitutes. Meanwhile, Friday saw 185 vacancies and 144 substitutes needed, leading to 83 vacancies filled and 61 unfilled.
Superintendent Mark Miear proposed what the district refers to as “Phase 3, Level 1,” which will begin Monday, Dec. 14 through Dec. 18 and will resume until the end of the semester from Jan. 4 through Jan. 21.
This is what the proposed phase entails:
- From Dec. 14 to Dec. 18, pre-k through 6th-grade students may attend four half days while grades 7-12 move to remote instruction. That way, the need for substitutes will be focused on those classes with pre-k through 6th-grade students.
- Students who are allowed for in-person instruction are those with disabilities, English-language learners and children of employees.
- There is currently no change in athletics.
- On Dec. 21 and Dec. 22, all staff will work from home as those are asynchronous learning days before the school goes on winter break.
- Any mixed-grade classes would be hybrid.
School board member Sue Kass would like to see the school district go all remote but understands the issues that come with it.
Meanwhile, board member Mark Cherbaka would like to see a bigger reduction and thinks the first week or two back from break should have most, if not all, students remotely learning.
School Board Chair Gunin Kiran says the parents want to see their kids in school. She said she would like to make this move this week and have the ability to change moving forward.
The plan passed five votes to two votes with Franklin and Kass in opposition.