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As COVID cases rise, so do Texas teacher shortages, absences and burnout

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Laila Kazmi / KCTS-TV 9

As pandemic uncertainty continues, schools across the country and in Texas are finding it increasingly difficult to staff campuses with the necessary number of full-time and substitute teachers to maintain normal operations.

As schools returned from the holiday break, Northside ISD in San Antonio reported 1,260 absences out of 13,000 employees from its 125 campuses.

Some districts are offering incentives for substitute teachers, hosting job fairs to hire for full-time positions, or offering retention bonuses to existing staff.

Meanwhile, teachers unions are calling for a temporary mask mandate in schools as omicron cases continue to rise.

How has the pandemic exacerbated Texas’ existing teacher shortage? Is the spike in recent teacher absences COVID-related?

What are the expectations of teachers during a pandemic? What else have educators had to take on in addition to teaching their students? Is it sustainable?

How can schools prevent or assist with teacher burnout? Are districts doing enough to keep teachers in classrooms?


  • Danya Perez, reporter for the Express-News education team
  • Zeph Capo, president of Texas AFT (American Federation of Teachers)

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, January 5.

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