Roughly 1,000 teachers absent from San Antonio's Northside ISD two days in a row

click to enlarge Students line up to register this week at NISD's Holmes High School last year. - Twitter / @NISD
Twitter / @NISD
Students line up to register this week at NISD's Holmes High School last year.
San Antonio's Northside ISD, the largest school district in the state, is struggling to find substitute teachers as roughly 1,000 staff members called out of work for the second day in a row, according to district officials.

The high number of teachers absent from work — which increased from 929 Monday to 1,017 Tuesday — coincides with Metro Health increasing San Antonio’s COVID-19 risk category to “severe.” That designation means that community spread and risk of infection are both high.

Though more teachers called out Tuesday, the fill rate — meaning the percentage of vacancies covered by fill-ins — increased from 58% to 60% over those two days, Northside ISD Director of Communications Barry Perez said. That number is expected to improve throughout the week. 

“We know that some individuals are COVID positive or maybe are self-isolating, and we know that they need to be out for five days,” Perez said. “If we look at the number of individuals who have already put in some requests for the rest of this week, we know that by the end of this week, we’re back up to a 90% fill rate.”

Northside currently has a pool of 1,700 substitutes. Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and a national shortage of teachers, Perez said the district is improving its hiring practices. It's also encouraging its pool of subs to work at schools that are further away so it's better able to cover absences districtwide.

“We have been working to streamline not only the application process for substitutes but also working to streamline the processing time that it takes once you’ve completed an application,” he said.

Perez said district officials won't know until this weekend whether the improvements positively affect fill numbers. Regardless, there are “no current plans for a return to virtual instruction," he added. 

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Michael Karlis

Michael Karlis is a Staff Writer at the San Antonio Current. He is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., whose work has been featured in Salon, Alternet, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Orlando Weekly, NewsBreak, 420 Magazine and Mexico Travel Today. He reports primarily on breaking news, politics...

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