DeWitt, NY – As more central New York City school districts turned to distance learning to deal with staff shortages due to rising Covid-19 cases and quarantines necessary, those in charge of the Christian Brothers Academy began to reflect.
What could they do to avoid having to switch to distance learning if they could not find enough substitute teachers? The difficulty in finding submarines is what has forced other schools to close classrooms and move away.
Matt Keough, president of the ABC, said he was thinking of their elders. He sent emails to students in three graduating classes – around 375 students. He asked if there were any in the Syracuse area and would be willing to help their alma mater by working as submarines for staff who were away due to the coronavirus pandemic.
That was several weeks ago, and so far 16 alumni are serving as substitute teachers at DeWitt Private School. More people are responding to email and must be trained by the school and the Catholic Diocese of Syracuse before they can start, Keough said.
For the ABC, alumni ready to work as submarines have been a saving grace, Keough said.
“The shortage of submarines during the pandemic put a lot of pressure on schools,” he said. “It is quite possible that we would have to switch to distance learning without it. It allowed us to stay open. “
More school districts have made the switch to distance learning in recent weeks, due to the surge in Covid cases, large numbers of students and staff in quarantine, and the shortage of staff working on it. results. A number of districts have moved away: Syracuse, Westhill, Solvay, Liverpool, Phoenix, Skaneateles, North Syracuse, West Genesee, Jordan-Elbridge, Baldwinsville, Port Byron, Auburn and Canastota.
Tom SanGiacomo, who graduated in 2016 from ABC, pledged to become a substitute teacher in the subject he needed. He lives in Tully, graduated from SUNY Geneseo in August, and plans to get his masters degree from Nazareth College. He wants to be a teacher when he gets his master’s degree.
“I got the email saying they needed help, and I wanted to do it,” said SanGiacomo, 22, who helps his family on their sheep farm. “It’s a great practice for my profession and it helps the ABC while giving me a job. ”
He has completed the required training and has taught physics, chemistry, health, gym, Spanish and geometry and graduated from grades 7 to 12.
“There is a learning curve with the subjects that I don’t know, but I think exposure to different classes will make me a better teacher,” he said.
Teaching during a pandemic is different, with students wearing masks and coming to school on a hybrid schedule, SanGiacomo said. But when you teach in an environment like this, it makes you stronger, he says.
The ABC pays its substitute teachers $ 15 an hour, and SanGiacomo said he works about three days a week.
Keough, of the CBA, said the district needs to get creative as it wants to continue providing in-person instruction to families who want it.
“A lot of subs are retired teachers, and with Covid a lot more are hesitant,” he said. “In a typical year there is often a shortage of submarines and right now the demand is increasing.”
“It’s our way of doing what we can to stay open,” he said.
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Elizabeth Doran covers education, suburban government and development, breaking news and more. Do you have a tip, a comment or a story idea? Contact her anytime at 315-470-3012 or by email [email protected]