MOJAVE, Calif. (KERO) — Students from six different schools stayed home Friday as the Mojave Unified School District canceled classes due to staff shortages and COVID cases.
The school closures affected about 3,000 students in Mojave. The school district told 23ABC many of their staff are out due to COVID and they simply don’t have enough teachers in key departments to stay open. Which also puts parents in a difficult situation.
"My schedule definitely had to change today. I had to find a sitter last minute, which is not an easy task," said parent Shea Lacy, a mother of two students at Mojave Elementary. "I like to plan things in advance to with school closing last minute. So with school closing abruptly, it is very hard for me to do so."
- California City High School
- California City Middle School
- Hacienda Elementary School
- Mojave Elementary School
- Mojave Junior and Senior High School
- Robert P. Ulrich Elementary
Lacy said she first got a call that classes were going to be out early on Thursday and then received a call that evening that classes were being canceled Friday due to staff shortages.
"It happened once or twice before. Same thing: teachers are getting sick, they can’t come in."
Now Lacy hopes she does not have to turn her kitchen into a classroom again because her kids don’t like remote learning.
Her kids are not the only ones that prefer to be in person. Eleventh grader Alexzandra Esquivel said she was bummed when she heard the news.
"I don’t want to be home. I was so psyched because I like going to school because I can hang out with my friends. But at the same time, it is unhealthy because of the variant going around."
Transportation Departement Was Heavily Impacted
District Superintendent Dr. Katherine Aguirre told 23ABC that just this past week of the about 350 employees in the district they have averaged 115 callouts a day due to COVID.
Aguirre noted the transportation department was heavily impacted. With more than 90% of students in the district depending on the bus there were not enough drivers or backup drivers, to get the kids to class.
The parent of three students and school district employee Erika Rico said she was working at a school in Cal City when she found out.
"They called me a few minutes before I was working, about 15 minutes away and they called my husband to let him know that they were going to be out which my husband then called me because he knows that I was far away. So then I drove fast to come and pick them up. Other times they give us around an hour or two to come to pick them up but this time was the first time."
Rico added the school just needs to hire more staff because they have been low since they returned from remote this school year.
That is why Lacy said she is applying to jobs at the district.
"I feel like those who are able and willing, I mean why not. Apply and help out because, at the end of the day, these are our kids, they need the help. They need to be in school and they need to learn."
The district said they are working with the Kern County Superintendent of Schools office for additional resources to prevent future closures. But numbers are limited. They are asking parents to bring kids to school on Monday, but there's a chance the closure could extend into next week.
23ABC In-Depth: Teacher Data
Stress has become significantly worse during the pandemic and it may be driving more teachers out of the profession. 23ABC took an in-depth look at several recent reports and surveys to see how much of an impact this pandemic is having on teachers nationwide.
A new survey by the National Education Association (NEA) found that 32 percent of its members now have plans to leave the profession earlier than they anticipated.
According to a new Rand Survey, teachers are reporting much higher job-related stress and depression than the general adult population.
Meanwhile, the NEA survey also revealed that three percent of members are now teaching virtually full-time.
However, overall, those who took part in the survey did say they feel safer about working in person, thanks in large part to COVID-19 vaccinations, which have skyrocketed among educators. According to the NEA survey, 86 percent of its members have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.