Boston Public Schools so short-staffed, Superintendent steps in to teach class

BOSTON — Teachers, substitutes, bus drivers and food nutrition workers are just a few of the positions having to work overtime because of staffing shortages. Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said if she had to step in to help teach a class, she would. Wednesday she held to that promise at Nathan Hale Elementary School as the 4th graders got a big surprise when the former middle school teacher went back to her roots.

“I was in my office last night leaving around 9 o’clock when I noticed that the chief of staff’s car was still in the garage,” said Cassellius. “I called him up and said, why are you still here? He said, he had two teachers that he still needed to cover for at Nathan Hale and so I said I will do that.”

The parents we spoke with say they love her commitment but wonder if there are other solutions.

“It’s good cause she said she would do that but as a parent and a teacher in daycare I think maybe we should shut down for a little bit because there are not that many teachers,” said parent Aaliyah Williams.

An Increase in COVID-19 cases has made it hard to have enough staff to make a school day work. Mayor Michelle Wu says some of the schools only have 75% of workers available.

“It may get to the point we are on a school by school basis,” said Mayor Wu. “We may need to move to a snow day, which the state policy doesn’t currently allow for any remote learning whatsoever even if it is due to staffing shortages. So we will continue to talk with them about the rigidity of that policy as we’re expecting a snowstorm potentially Friday.”

Superintendent Cassellius recognizes one way to avoid the shortage is mixing classes but knows that would diminish one on one time with students.

“It’s not happening across the district,” said Cassellius. “It may be happening, but we’re trying not to. That would be a last resort.”

We asked her since she enjoyed it so much today if she would be back Thursday. She said she’s not needed at the moment, but if that changed, she would.

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