NM school districts ready for full re-entry but with some staff shortages

Education

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – School districts have faced staff shortages as they’ve welcomed back students into the classroom. As many look to open for full re-entry next Monday, Albuquerque Public Schools gave an update on its staffing on Monday.

APS said it’s ready to welcome back the about 60% of students districtwide that have opted to come back to campuses on April 5. The district also says all of its staff has been offered the vaccine and that most will come back for in-person learning.

“All of our staff are returning unless they are on a priority list for health concerns. But the majority of our staff are returning in person. There’s a small number of staff that are staying home until they’re fully vaccinated,” Dr. Gabriella Duran Blakey, APS Chief Operations Officer, said.

It is still unclear if the district is facing any shortages in positions like substitute teachers and custodians. The district is still down bus drivers. It said has 400 drivers but still needs about 30 more. It is surveying parents to see how many buses it will need and said despite the shortage, it will be able to run about 90% of the district’s bus routes.

“Every day we’ll get a better idea of how many routes we’ll be able to run. We’re pretty confident that most of our students will be able to ride the bus,” Dr. Blakey said.

Rio Rancho Public Schools was also facing staff shortages when working on bringing back all grades to a hybrid model. The district was down on substitute teachers, nurses, educational assistants, and was down about 40 custodians. It has been consistently posting job opportunities within the district on its Facebook page.

In an email on Monday, an RRPS district spokesperson said it is still down some custodians but “we will adjust to ensure we have enough staff to start full reentry on April 5.” The district is also actively recruiting bus drivers and attendants but said it is set to cover all of its bus routes. The district is also still looking to hire fill-in school nurses.

“We also have a few openings for health assistants and CARE Room Aides. No matter our staffing levels, we will absolutely be ready for School Full Reentry on April 5 and can pull staff from our District Office as needed to assist,” Melissa Perez, Communications Director at RRPS, said in an emailed response.

RRPS is expected to go into more detail and specifics about its staffing at a board meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday.

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