SAN ANTONIO – The past two days since returning from their holiday breaks, both Northside and North East Independent School Districts reported a combined total of about 2,000 teachers and staff who’d called in sick or absent Monday.
“The past couple of days have certainly been a challenge,” said Aubrey Chancellor, NEISD spokeswoman.
Barry Perez, NISD spokesman, said, “Yesterday was an anomaly because it was truly a district-wide issue.”
Perez said 1,260 teachers and staff didn’t report to work Monday. The number had risen to over 1,300 on Tuesday.
NEISD had about 700 absences each day, Chancellor said.
Student absences were similar, 15% in NEISD, 16% in NISD.
Perez said the freezing temperatures Monday morning may have deterred some parents from sending their children to school.
“Not all of those absences were illness-related, and certainly not all of them were COVID,” Perez said. “But we suspect that a good number were, in fact, illness-related, whether the employee themselves might be sick or there may be a family member who was ill.”
Chancellor also said there could be other reasons and other illnesses, such as the flu, that kept their teachers and staff home from work.
“It is certainly fair to say that these are numbers that we’ve not seen before,” Chancellor said.
Perez said given its numbers improved slightly, “Time is truly going to tell all, and we’ll certainly see if those numbers improve as we hope they do.”
Other school districts which resumed classes this week report similar shortages.
A spokesman for Southside ISD said the district had a total of 80 absences among its staff, 39 of them teachers, and student attendance was dropped to 82%, compared to an average of 91% before the Christmas break.
Less than nine percent of staff, about half of whom were teachers, were absent in the Southwest Independent School District, according to its spokeswoman, as well as 17% of its students.
Somerset ISD’s spokeswoman said 34 of its staff, 15 teachers, and 523 students were absent, but she said the district “fortunately has enough substitutes.”
A spokeswoman for Harlandale ISD said 330 staff members were out, 198 of them were teachers. She said 81 out of the 198 classes taught by those teachers, did not have substitutes.
However, she said, in order for students to continue their classes, “All staff members are used to support students and their classrooms in order to fill those gaps.”