EMMA ROUTLEY/CHRONICLE PHOTO

Right: Springfield Public Schools, which includes Page Elementary, has at least 50 open positions posted. Other area school districts are facing the same hiring challenges.

Shortages of substitutes are a common theme in regional school districts, and are leaving staff feeling stretched thin.

That’s according to Stephanie Rogers, an educational assistant at Bohemia Elementary School, who addressed the South Lane school board this week with concerns that staff is taking the brunt of the hit. 

At South Lane, the shortage of substitutes means that “classified staff” – including assistants, food service and transportation employees – are “being pulled from one classroom to another to fill the gaps and sometimes multiple recesses, leaving our classrooms without assistance during these times,” Rogers said. “In the last month at Bohemia alone, there were 15 days where we had at least two and as many as eight classified employees absent in a day with no subs to cover any of them.” 

The shortage affects daily life at the district, Rogers said. “When bus drivers are absent, we’ve seen mechanics driving buses, and even district personnel who’ve had to drive transportation cars to get our students to where they need to go.” South Lane lists 27 positions available, 13 of which are classified positions.

Creswell School District officials are seeing staffing shortages, too. “We have experienced a shortage of substitutes for classified employees and it’s my understanding that this is an issue in Lane County and across the state,” superintendent Mike Johnson said. The district has posted 21 open positions, eight of which are for classified staff. 

At Springfield School District, 19 positions for classified staff are posted, ranging from bus drivers to teacher assistant to janitorial staff. In addition, the district has 50 other positions open, ranging from administrative to licensed and coaching positions. 

While the districts struggle to find more staff, a consistent number of COVID-19 cases have encroached upon the K-12 student range, Lane County Public Health spokesperson Jason Davis said May 4. Between April 18 and May 2, Springfield Public School District reported 36 cases, and Creswell and Pleasant Hill districts reported under 10 cases. 

In other COVID-19-related news: 

The county remains in Extreme Risk this week, prohibiting indoor dining, and further limiting outdoor dining, retail and gathering sizes. Davis said that there is a “downturn” trend in case numbers on the state and county level. 

All-time case count in Springfield 3,813 (+283 in two weeks), Creswell 318 (+27), Cottage Grove 419 (+30), and Pleasant Hill 81 (less than 10)

On Tuesday, the county reported 12,574 cases; 19 hospitalizations; six ICU patients; 329 infected; and 145 deaths. A death was also reported this week for the first time in over six weeks.

Over half of the adult population in Lane County has had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, and 34.29% of the 16-and-older population are fully vaccinated. The county’s goal remains to obtain herd immunity, which is 75% of the county population.

Volunteers are needed to help with vaccine clinics on Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Bohemia Park in Cottage Grove. More info: 541-942-1185 ext. 2 and [email protected]