As students head back to class, Vermont's schools face unprecedented staffing shortfalls
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:
- Clayton Wetzel, a full time school nurse in Waitsfield, the Vermont director of the National Association of School Nurses, and on the executive committee of the Vermont State School Nurses Association
- Jenn Botzojorns, superintendent of Kingdom East School District, including schools in Caledonia and Essex County
- Jamie Kinnarney, superintendent of the White River Valley Supervisory Union
- Chris Hennessey, superintendent of the Barre Unified Union School District
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.