School District 11 says dire need for substitute teachers as staffing shortages threaten in-person learning

D-11 administrative building.
D-11 administrative building.(KKTV)
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 12:55 PM MST
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - School District 11 is not moving any of its schools to remote learning -- yet.

The Pikes Peak region’s third-largest school district sent a letter to families earlier this week warning that the option is on the table as schools grapple with an explosion of COVID cases. Staff absences have skyrocketed during this latest surge, and schools are stretched thin on available substitutes.

“Our ultimate goal is to keep schools open for in-person learning,” said Devra Ashby, the spokesperson for D-11. “However, when we cannot find a sub and we cannot find central administration folks to cover the classrooms and we can’t cover them with a school staff that exists, it is safer to go to a remote option.”

The district said in its letter to parents that if a class or school finds itself in that situation, families would be immediately notified so that they can plan accordingly.

Ashby said one thing that would tremendously help in keeping schools open would be more people stepping up to become substitutes.

“We already had a sub shortage before the pandemic and now it is at a fever pitch, and so we are really hoping that some of the actions we’re taking will increase people’s interest in becoming substitute teachers,” Ashby said. “... With the substitute situation, our board felt that it was really necessary to increase the substitute rate of pay, so we are now the highest-paying school district for subs. We pay $180 a day for teacher substitutes in the classroom Monday through Friday.”

“We are serious. We need people in our schools to help our students, and if people are so inclined and really would like to have the opportunity, I encourage them to get in touch with our human resources department.”

A link to that department can be found here.

Read the full letter from parents below.

“Dear D11 Families and Staff,

“This message provides you with advance notice of possible changes for your planning purposes. As mentioned in the D11 message from January 3, 2022, the District continues to experience a high volume of staff absences due to COVID, among other non-COVID issues. The main goal this school year has been to keep our schools open for in-person learning as much as possible, however, we must consider the possibility of moving some classes and/or schools to brief remote learning periods.

“Remote learning would be implemented in schools where staff absences are high and there is minimal substitute coverage to safely supervise students. In these situations, your child’s school would communicate the need to move to remote learning as soon as possible so families may make adequate plans. We hope to keep all remote learning periods as brief as possible so students may return to in-person learning quickly.Thank you for your understanding and partnership as we navigate these challenges together.”

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