COVID-19 absences cause teacher shortage in Osceola County

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — Parents of students in Osceola County said illness is hitting the classrooms hard.

Channel 9 heard from parents today who said there have been many students and teachers absent at Celebration K-8.

The school had to close for a week in August because of the number of COVID-19 cases.

>>> STREAM CHANNEL 9 EYEWITNESS NEWS LIVE <<<

According to district officials, 10 teachers at the school are currently out with COVID-19 right now. Parent Nancy Batista told Channel 9 that she received a text from the district on Wednesday informing her of “many absences due to covid.”

Here is the text that was sent to parents:

“Celebration School: Good morning CK* Parent and Students, we have many absences due to COVID and will be using Teams during the day for lessons. Please make sure you bring your filly charged laptop and charger to school this week.”

Read: Man breaks into plane’s cockpit, causes damage during boarding

That was enough for Batista to keep her son Anthony home from school today.

“I was concerned and didn’t send my son in,” Batista said.

She was also concerned that “students will be using Teams during lessons.”

Read: Can you reuse KN95, N95 masks? CDC says yes, but follow steps to sanitize them

“It just said for the rest of this week to take the computers to school, that to me is basically letting me know that there’s not enough teachers,” Batista said.

Channel 9 reached out to the school district and received this reply:

“There are 10 teachers out with COVID and a few out for other reasons (training etc…). All classes are covered. The principal just wanted to remind students of the expectation of bringing their computer every day and it being charged. – this is out first year being 1:1 with computers. When subs are in the classroom, a teacher who is out can still give directions and assignments through TEAMS. We are not moving whole classed or the school to virtual learning.”

Read: 1 teenager dead, 3 teens and 2 adults injured in Clermont crash

Channel 9 has learned that absences are a district wide problem.

The Osceola Teachers Union told Channel 9 that every day so far in January, 10% of teachers have been out.

According to the union, at one point, Westside K-8 had 35 teachers and staff out.

Read: Orange County deputies identify man found shot to death after crash

Batista said she worries not only about her son being exposed to COVID, but also him falling behind at school.

“My son even mentioned to me that even the principal is having to be a substitute teacher,” Batista said. “I do feel like he’s getting behind on a lot of the things.”

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.