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As students head back to class, Vermont's schools face unprecedented staffing shortfalls

A teacher in a green hoodie crouches near a small wooden bookshelf discussing a selection of books with a student, who stands nearby masked and wearing a backpack.
Winooski School District, courtesy
The Student Library Commission recommends a series of "books trending on TikTok" for summer reading. As students return to school this fall, we're talking about the staffing challenges many districts are facing.

Students return to school later this month, but for many districts, the big question is, will they have the teachers and staff they need? This hour, we're speaking with educators grappling with a workforce shortage in schools. And with a school nurse about COVID policies this fall, and how staffing will affect that and other health issues in schools.

Our guests are:

Wetzel told Vermont Edition that, as students head back to school this month, school nurses tell him they're confident they have what they need to contain COVID-19.

The Agency of Education issued guidance last week that put most COVID-related decisions like testing, or sending students or staff home, in the hands of school nurses.

Wetzel says nurses have the COVID tests and supplies they need.

"I personally believe that using those with symptomatic students or staff will allow us to make the decisions that we need to allow them to either be in school, or need to go home."

Wetzel says staffing levels for school nurses remains a concern heading into the new school year.

Of the roughly 330 school nurse positions in Vermont, there are about 20 open jobs for nurses, assistants or substitute nurses.

Broadcast live at noon on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet us @vermontedition.

Connor Cyrus joined Vermont Public as host and senior producer in March 2021. He was a morning reporter at WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island. A graduate of Lyndon State College (now Northern Vermont University), he started his reporting career as an intern at WPTZ, later working for WAGM in Presque Isle, Maine, and WCAX Channel 3, where he covered a broad range of stories from Vermont’s dairy industry to the nurses’ strikes at UVM Medical Center. He’s passionate about journalism’s ability to shed light on complex or difficult topics, as well as giving voice to underrepresented communities.
Originally from Delaware, Matt moved to Alaska in 2010 for his first job in radio. He spent five years working as a radio and television reporter, radio producer, talk show host, and news director. His reporting received awards from the Alaska Press Club and the Alaska Broadcasters Association. Relocating to southwest Florida, he was a producer for television news and NPR member station WGCU for their daily radio show, Gulf Coast Live. He joined Vermont Public in October 2017 as producer of Vermont Edition.