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Help Needed

County school systems facing staff shortages

Local students returned to public schools during the last few weeks, and along with COVID-19 health concerns, they are facing other troubling possibilities — that there may not be enough teachers to lead the classrooms, or enough bus drivers to even get them to the schools.

Both the Upshur and Barbour county school systems are currently facing those kind of shortages.

In the fall, a lack of substitute teachers prompted Buckhannon-Upshur Middle and Buckhannon-Upshur High School to close to in-person instruction. Similarly, a COVID-19 outbreak among the transportation department in the fall meant there were not enough bus drivers.

Upshur County Schools has been actively recruiting for substitutes in professional and service personnel.

Meanwhile, Barbour County Superintendent of Schools Jeff Woofter has made a public appeal for people to enter the school system’s bus driver training program.

“Due to a lack of substitute drivers, we have made arrangements with other drivers in the area to assist us in getting as many students to school as we can,” he noted in a recent Facebook post, adding that staffers would call “affected students to let them know of the alternate pick-up and drop off times and locations.

“We apologize for the inconvenience this causes many families and we are actively recruiting substitute bus drivers both locally and statewide to fill in when needed.

“If you know of anyone that would like to drive bus for the school system, please encourage them to apply for our training program,” the post reads.

In Upshur County, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Debra Harrison said, “Our greatest need is for classroom teachers. We have a need in all other areas too, cooks, custodians, aides and bus drivers.”

To qualify as a substitute teacher, individuals typically need a bachelor’s degree but the West Virginia Department of Education has made some exceptions due to the substitute teaching shortage and COVID-19, according to Harrison. Restricted short-term permits are being offered through the West Virginia Department of Education.

Anyone interested in becoming a certified teacher should contact Brandon Williams, manager of teacher certification and licensure, at the Upshur County Board of Education.

Upshur County Schools will provide the CDL training for individuals interested in driving school buses. Anyone interested should contact director of transportation Jodie Akers at the Upshur County BOE.

Individuals interested in becoming a substitute aide, cook or custodian must take a test, according to Harrison. Eddie Vincent, director of child nutrition and wellness, typically administers those tests on Thursday mornings. Contact Vincent at the Upshur County BOE to set up a time for testing.

Anyone interested in these positions is encouraged to get more information. There are few jobs as rewarding as those which help children.

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