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Gainesville High principal hopes career fair will combat inconvenient teacher, staff shortage

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 10:51 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Alachua County Public Schools are facing a shortage of teachers, staff, and bus drivers and the principal of Gainesville High School is hoping Wednesday’s career fair will combat that.

People lined up looking for a new opportunity as the pandemic has put the district in a bind.

One of their biggest concerns is a lack of bus drivers.

“There’s not a bus driver to pick up a child then we have a parent that’s saying how can I get my child to school,” ACPS Marketing, Recruitment and Retention Specialist Tonya Nunn said. “We have to find a way and make a way for that child to get to school so desperately it has affected not just the child but it affects the whole family.”

GHS Principal Diane Leinenbach said more students than usual are in tutoring as a result of the shortage.

“Another teacher due to COVID left our campus as well,” Leinenbach said.

Related story: Alachua County School Board votes to redraw board member’s district boundaries

It took more than nine weeks to replace them.

As she’s still facing a lack of staff, other employees have to step into different roles.

“When you’re assisting someone else and spending the time doing that, it does take your eyes off of the responsibilities that you have,” Leinenbach said.

She said many teachers and staff at Gainesville High School value the district’s COVID-19 protocols, and if there had not been a mask mandate, there may have been an even bigger shortage of teachers.

“The students that are masked up and vaccinated have offered a sense of solace for our teachers and our staff,” Leinenbach said.

New protocols allowing parents to opt their high school students out of the mandate began Tuesday.

So far out of about 1,900 students at GHS, 39 have opted out.

“There has been some concern expressed about those that are opting out of the masks whether or not they are vaccinated and so that is a concern for many of our staff and so that’s something we have been working through as well,” Leinenbach said.

Overall she said they’re a family and will push through the challenges the pandemic continues to bring.

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