Edmond school district offers incentives for substitutes as one elementary switches to virtual learning until after Thanksgiving Break

Classrooms & COVID-19

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Edmond Public Schools is moving an entire elementary school to virtual learning until after Thanksgiving Break, but that’s not the only hardship the district is dealing with.

“I received a text message last night and I just went full panic mode,” said Shadowe Jay, who is a Washington Irving parent of two.

Washington Irving Elementary School parents learned on Tuesday night their kids won’t be headed back to school for nearly three weeks.

“We’ve had 8 classrooms that have been caused to quarantine. We’ve had 18 students test positive. We have about 15 staff that are out that have either tested positive or have quarantined,” said Bret Towne, Edmond Public Schools Superintendent.

The school made the tough call to switch to virtual learning after an increase in cases over a three-day period.

But the district says the spread is coming from outside school walls.

“It’s coming from home in these instances. From families. We’re not seeing a lot of spread internally yet but that’s the possibility when you have so many cases coming in so quickly,” Towne said. “If this trend would have continued, it would have been a super spreader event.”

Right now, the district has a blended A/B in-person and remote learning schedule. Washington Irving A-group students will go back in person on Nov. 30. While B-group students will head back on Thursday, Dec. 3.

Leaving parents to have to find somewhere else for their kids to go.

“I work Monday through Friday. I’m a single mom of three kids,” Jay said. “I’m just going to have to figure out the way to continually educate them during this tough time that everybody’s having to go through.”

One of the factors leading to the closure– a massive substitute teacher shortage.

“Normally we would have 300-400 active subs. We’re down to about 150 subs right now,” Towne said. “We’re relying to pull teachers aids out of classes or sometime/ even having to split classes or put a couple of students in each other class of that grade level. Teachers covering on their prep periods.”

The district sent News 4 this list of incentives for new substitutes—

  1. Referral Incentive for EPS Employees– Beginning immediately, Edmond Schools will pay a $250 stipend to any employee who recruits a person to apply to substitute teach and the recruited substitute teaches at least 40 days the remainder of the school year. To receive the stipend, the recruited substitute teacher must complete the process to substitute teach as a teacher or teacher assistant and work 40 total days from now until the end of the school year. To receive credit for the recruitment, the substitute teacher must list the name of the employee recruiting them on the application process. Recruitment stipends will be paid at the end of the 20-21 school year. 
  2. Substitute Teacher Stipend– Substitute teachers working 20 days from November 2 – December 18 will receive a $125 stipend.
  3. Substitute Teacher iPad Incentive– Substitute teachers working 8 of the 12 Monday’s and Friday’s from November 2 – December 18 will be placed in a drawing for an iPad. Monday and Friday continue to be days when we have the largest numbers of absences.

The district also says they have also been offering COVID-19 testing not just for teachers, but also for students.

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