In Sacramento City Unified, only a quarter of middle and high school students turned in proof that they had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the district's Nov. 30 deadline. That means more than 14,000 students 12 and older will have to potentially enroll in independent study.
And in Oakland Unified, about 40% of students 12 and older — some 6,000 students — have not yet submitted proof of vaccination, Oaklandside reported earlier this month, prompting the school board last week to push back the district’s deadline from Jan. 1 to Jan. 31. About 1,000 of those students have qualified for either a medical or religious exemption, district officials said — an exemption not offered by the West Contra Costa or LA districts.
Martin, WCCUSD's chief academic officer, said the district has been scrambling since the start of the semester to hire enough teachers to meet the demand for its virtual academy. Even before the pandemic, however, the state and county faced a district-wide school staffing shortage, which only got worse over the last year, after many teachers and other employees left the profession.
“We don’t have enough teachers. That’s just the bottom line,” Martin said.
The district is actively hiring teachers for its virtual academy. But among the hundreds of applicants who have responded to the district’s job listings, Martin said, only a handful are actually qualified.
She said the academy, whose existence preceded the pandemic, was designed as a year-round option for the handful of families in the district who wanted a remote learning alternative for their children. It was not, however, designed to be a state-required independent study option for the entire district.
Teachers and school staff “are doing a whole reset, adding new students to classes, trying to reorganize their school,” Martin said. “It’s a constant revolving door, and that’s not what it was originally designed for. I would hope people are understanding.”
This story was originally published by EdSource.