Nebraska Schools Face Staffing Shortages Due To Omicron Surge

Jan. 13, 2022, 5:32 p.m. ·

Teacher leans over and holds student desk while students look.
Lincoln Public Schools has hired more substitute teachers since last year, but they are still struggling to keep up with teacher absences. (Photo Courtesy Lincoln Public Schools on Facebook)

Listen To This Story

The latest omicron surge is creating a staff shortage in Nebraska schools. School districts are desperate to find substitute teachers.

Hershey Public Schools, west of North Platte, has about 525 students, and 40 teachers. However, Superintendent Jane Davis said three middle school teachers have been absent due to illness.

"And one of those three is a positive test.. if that would increase, then it would become a problem," Davis said.

The problem would be if they run out of substitute teachers, since they’re sharing those subs with other districts. Lincoln Public Schools already has this problem. So far, 334 staff and over 2,486 students haven’t been to class this week at LPS schools.

"We are seeing an increase in unfilled classrooms where we needed subs and we've just not been able to fill them," said Eric Weber, associate superintendent for human resources. "It's been a real challenge for us."

He said about a third of substitute requests for teachers who are out sick were unfilled on Monday and that number continued to grow. On Wednesday, about 40% of classrooms didn’t have substitutes to fill. Weber said teachers have been stepping up in school, helping the food service and custodian staff and covering other classes.

"So they're using their plan period that they would normally be planning, and they are covering for other teachers, which means then that that planning has to happen at some other time, typically outside of work," he said.

Davis believes every school is looking for substitute teachers right now and encourages those who want to help to call their local school administration.