Staff Shortage Plays Key Role in Shift to Remote Learning

Most+classrooms+in+Region+14%2C+such+as+Kyle+Brennan%27s+B10+at+Nonnewaug%2C+will+be+mostly+empty+for+the+next+two+months+due+to+the+switch+to+fully+remote+learning.

Marisa Christoff

Most classrooms in Region 14, such as Kyle Brennan’s B10 at Nonnewaug, will be mostly empty for the next two months due to the switch to fully remote learning.

Tyler Lavaway, Digital Editor and Academics Reporter

WOODBURY — Region 14 decided Nov. 12 to shift to fully remote learning due to staff shortages and rising COVID-19 cases. 

The Region 14 Board of Education held a special meeting Nov. 11 to address COVID-19 concerns. In that meeting, Joseph Olzacki, the superintendent of Region 14, explained that there have been widespread staff shortages across all four schools due to COVID-19 with no additional staff available to replace them.

“The problem is now becoming that we do not have subs,” Olzacki said at the meeting. 

This problem is also extending to nurses in the district. According to Olzacki, the nurse at Bethlehem Elementary School will be out for 14 days as of Nov. 11.

“We have exhausted all of our opportunities to try and find a substitute nurse,” Olzacki noted to the Board of Education.

The following day, Olzacki sent out a letter that announced the start of fully remote learning starting Nov. 20. 

Olzacki described to the board a desperate situation.

“The principals are now teaching classes because we don’t have enough staff,” he said. “I heard from [Woodbury Middle School principal Bill] Nemec, who told me that some of his staff members are now meeting with him bursting into tears over stress and not knowing what to do next. I’m hearing this from all schools now.”

If all goes well, the school district plans to return to hybrid learning by Jan. 19, 2021.

“I would rather them be in the classroom, but I realize it just isn’t a great idea right now,” Olzacki said.