Winston-Salem/Forsyth County schools to use virtual instructors in light of teaching vacancies

Since late August, the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools District has filled more than half of its vacancies.

But as of Tuesday evening, there were still about 37 positions open in classrooms, as well as 38 for teaching assistants.

Human Resources Director Leslie Alexander says 13 recruiting events are planned by mid-December. But until those positions are filled, she says, the district needs to take steps that may be less than ideal.

This includes a contract with Proximity Learning, a company that will livestream certified teachers in 25 math and science classes with vacancies. In-person facilitators will be in classrooms with virtual instructors.

“It’s not an area we want to be in. We don’t necessarily want to do that, but it really is like a National Guard event,” Alexander said. “They provide, you know, domestic emergency assistance. And this, in our view, is a national emergency. Children need to have instructions in front of them.

The school board unanimously approved the contract with Proximity Learning, but the district is also implementing other strategies to manage vacancies.

Alexander says the district is paying existing teachers to take extra classes or students where help is needed. Other certified staff also visit schools with vacancies to provide support.

At the Board of Education meeting, a few public speakers expressed concerns about giving teachers more work, the challenges of virtual learning and the need for better pay.

Alexander says the district is working to build a pipeline of educators and provide competitive compensation so these emergency strategies won’t be needed in years to come.

Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.

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