WALLINGFORD — The school system has hired six new teachers and a school nurse to better cope with the impacts of coronavirus.
Elementary school teachers Amber Adams, Scott Esposito, Megan Jacobs-Carta, Ronald Johnson and Andrea Gracy, plus middle or high school teacher Michael Nolan and school nurse Tracy Cella Tyler were hired on Nov. 17, School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo said.
The new educators will help offset the loss of teachers and staff available to instruct students due to the pandemic. Menzo estimated that the school system has suffered “a good 15 to 20 vacancies” every day among staff so far during the 2020-21 school year.
The school system requires teachers to work from school unless they have compelling reasons to stay home. Besides those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or been quarantined, teachers have needed to stay home to watch their own children or to teach from home instead of at school due to their own health concerns.
As of Nov. 17, 40 staff members have had to stay home simply because their children’s day care centers have been shut down by coronavirus precautions. Another 168 teachers and staff had been quarantined for two weeks as of Nov. 13, including 80 at Wallingford’s middle and high schools and 88 at other town schools, according to statistics Menzo provided.
“It’s been a challenge,” Menzo said during a recent interview. “We have had to pull staff from other positions and then ultimately deal with the fact that those people in other positions have to make up for the work that they aren’t getting done.”
Among other things, the losses lead to “an inconsistency to instruction that is not fair to the student and the staff member,” he said. “We have been fortunate to fill as many positions as we have.”
Substitute teachers are difficult to find when times are good. With the pandemic, Wallingford has hired many substitute teachers from school systems that have postponed in-school learning, Menzo said. College interns have helped.
The new teachers have been offered one-year contracts. Salary data wasn’t immediately available. The teachers will start work as soon as possible, Menzo said.