As Eanes ISD approaches the second grading period of the 2020-21 school year, a majority of teachers and staff have returned to campus, according to Superintendent Tom Leonard.
Trustees met for an in-person board meeting Oct. 6 to discuss staffing updates amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. During that meeting, Laurie Lee, chief human resources officer, said 1,126 staff are working on campus, and approximately 30 teachers remain remote due to documented medical conditions.
While the vast majority of teachers have returned to campus, the district is still working to fill vacancies and add to its substitute teacher pool, Lee said.
Since Aug. 1, EISD has received 19 professional resignations and, according to Lee, those were due to a variety of medical or personal reasons. As of the Oct. 6 meeting, 13 professional positions remained vacant, seven of which were roles in the special education department. There are also 14 teaching assistant positions still unfilled.
In part due to the practice of required quarantining, EISD is experiencing 50-100 staff absentees per day districtwide, Lee said. There are two active coronavirus cases among employees, according to EISD’s COVID-19 dashboard; however, Leonard said the district does not publicly report how many individuals are quarantining as a result of positive cases.
Those teachers or students who were in close contact with an individual that later tested positive are required to quarantine for at least 14 days, per guidance for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To combat this challenge, the district is looking to hire additional long-term substitutes this year, Lee said. There are 247 subs within the pool compared to an average of 300 in previous years, and EISD officials have frequently stated that acquiring subs has proved difficult during the pandemic.
Leonard said this challenge is not unique to EISD, and districts across the nation are struggling to be fully staffed with substitute teachers.