Schools struggle with staff, cancel midterms

Posted 1/12/22

What has been the biggest challenge(s) regarding COVID since coming back from Christmas break?

Warwick School Department Supt. Lynn Dambruch said the answer to that question is the same challenge …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Schools struggle with staff, cancel midterms


What has been the biggest challenge(s) regarding COVID since coming back from Christmas break?

Warwick School Department Supt. Lynn Dambruch said the answer to that question is the same challenge facing the vast majority of entities across the country. 

“Staffing the schools and the other departments in the Warwick School Department has been a big challenge,” said Dambruch. 

As a way to help alleviate issues with staffing, Dambruch said the district has more than 100 substitutes district wide since September.

“We  have held virtual job fairs, worked with the state colleges to keep recent grads on as subs, advertised on our District website, Indeed, Facebook, and School Spring,” said Dambruch.  “Additionally we have increased our sub pay to be very competitive throughout the state.  We continue to look for more ways to recruit additional subs in all areas: teachers, teacher assistants, clerical, custodial, lunch aides, building aides, and bus monitors.”

Dambuch said each school has “building substitutes,”  which are substitutes assigned to a school where they report to each day. 

“This model has helped the district attract substitutes because they know where they will be working and they become part of the school staff,” said Dambruch. “But we are always in need of substitutes in all positions.”

Since returning from Christmas break on Jan. 3 Winman and Warwick Vets Middle Schools along with Toll Gate High School were forced to go to distance learning temporarily. 

But while many people naturally think that the number of COVID cases was the only factor in those decisions, Dambruch said that is only part of the story. 

“We have to look at all absences when determining if a building or program has to go DL.  Many teachers and substitutes are out due to being symptomatic, identified as a close contact (if not vaccinated), awaiting test results, testing COVID positive, or caring for their own children who may be quarantined or isolated,” said Dambruch. “It is important to remember that we still have a baseline of teachers and staff who are absent for many other non-COVID reasons as well, whether it be a long term absence due to illnesses, surgery, injury, or undergoing chemotherapy treatment, for example.  The number of  COVID positive cases is just a piece of the puzzle.”

But as the number of COVID cases has increased over the past few weeks, the school district made a critical decision regarding testing at the high schools. 

Exams canceled 

On Tuesday emails were sent out to Pilgrim and Toll Gate High School students, parents, and guardians letting them know that there will be no midterm exams this year. The exams were expected to take place next week. 

“Due to the rising concerns with the latest COVID cases and student unfinished learning, the Mid-Year Assessments at both high schools will be canceled for the 2021-2022 school year,” the email read. 

Assistant Superintendent William McCaffrey said Tuesday that the Administration is concerned about students not being able to complete all their work due to high absenteeism by teachers and students. 

“We want to give them the time and the chance to make up everything they can prior to the end of the semester,” said McCaffrey. 

According to the email students are still required to attend school on Jan.20 and 21, 24 and 25 which will have modified schedules. McCaffrey said that like in past years the exam schedule was included in the school calendar prior to the start of the school year. 

“This time will be used to complete assignments for the quarter, participate in enrichment activities, and complete required assignments for all courses,” the email reads. “This includes all courses at Toll Gate, including Physical Education, Art, Music, Tech Ed. etc. The only exception to this would be the Career Center, students do not have to report to their CTC classes.”

As for buses the email states that “morning buses will run as scheduled with possible changes because of bus driver staffing issues. Afternoon buses will be modified each day and announced at the end of the last class block each day. All students are expected to leave school grounds at the end of the last period (11:40 a.m.)”

“Teachers will be giving graded assignments during these days, so it will be important for students to be present. The Cumulative Grade for Semester 1 will be the average of Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 grades,” the email read. 

Modified Schedule for Pilgrim, Toll Gate

Jan. 20- Period 1: 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Period 2: 9:40 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. Jan. 21- Period 3: 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. 

Period 4: 9:40 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.  Jan. 24- Period 5:  7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Period 6: 9:40 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.  Jan. 25 - Period 7: 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. 

Make up : 9:40 to 11:40 a.m. 



No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here