The nationwide hiring shortage hit 27J Schools.
"We are in a terrible staff shortage situation all over the district," said district spokewoman Janelle Asmius. "Our regular operations have already been modified to use every staff person from any area to help support our work, but it's not enough."
The district sent a letter to parents Sept. 24. In it, it said how glad the district was to be back to in-person learning. But it also told a different story when it comes to school and district operations.
"We’re facing very severe staffing shortages and supply chain breakdowns that seriously threaten our ability to fully return to a normal school year," the letter said.
The district said illness and pandemic protocols "have created an increase in student and staff absences."
"The lack of teachers and support staff has created a liability to our classrooms, our offices and, ultimately, to our support for students," the district said. "Adding to these problems, 27J also has a significant shortage in substitutes for these roles."
The district said it is "woefully understaffed" to fill bus routes. Temporary repalcements include mechanics, office staff, trainers and administrators.
"Even with these emergency modifications, we’ve cut bus routes simply because we don’t have enough staff," the letter said.
A number of cooks and lunchroom staff didn't return to work, the district said. The letter also pointed to "breakdowns in the U.S. supply chain as there simply isn't enough food being produced because of a lack of truck drivers, farm workers and workers in processing facilities."
"Our suppliers have run out of food, and we're scrambling to buy replacement food at warehouse stores and grocery stores," the district told parents.
The staffing shortages also impact child-care services, the district said.
Some of the available remedies are reductions or elimination of bus service for days or weeks, suspension of breakfast and lunch services and a return to remote learning.
"Current services can’t expand to meet increased demand without more staff," the district told parents. "27J Schools is appealing to all parents, grandparents, retirees, neighbors and friends to seriously consider stepping into these roles. We will provide the necessary training. Some positions offer flexible schedules and can be arranged for parents to have time to take children to and from school while still working a shift"
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