The Victoria school district needs help, and it’s time for the community to answer that call.

Substitute teacher shortages at the district has left school officials to make difficult decisions like closing its two largest campuses.

The closure of Victoria East and West high schools and DeLeon, Dudley and Torres elementary schools highlights the need for substitute teachers.

The elementary campuses closed earlier this month because teachers continued to either test positive for COVID-19 or had come in contact with the virus. This left campuses floundering for substitutes to fill those holes. When the holes weren’t filled, students were sent home to learn remotely once again.

To avoid more elementary closures, district officials announced the closure of its two high schools to free up substitutes for lower level campuses.

In March students were sent home for nearly six months to maneuver the new learning model of remote instruction. During that time, the average student lost ground on their progress, according to North West Education Association, a research-based nonprofit focused on students and educators.

The average student began the 2020-21 school year having lost up to a third of the expected progress the previous year in reading and up to half the expected progress in math, according to NWEA.

Students in Victoria were not immune to gaps in education. During Thursday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Quintin Shepherd touched on the learning gaps from the 2019-20 spring semester because of remote education. The ones who took the biggest hit were kindergarten students, who are now first graders.

Studies show that high school students are more successful in a remote setting compared to their elementary peers, but that does not mean they are immune to virtual classroom struggles.

The closures of the high schools and elementary campuses could have possibly been avoided with access to more substitute teachers. But as a community, we can change that now.

Anyone with a high school diploma or GED can answer the call to be a substitute teacher.

By stepping up to be a substitute teacher, community members can give back to their local school districts and keep students in the classroom where they thrive.

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This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate’s editorial board.

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(1) comment


Why a graduate? Some seniors should be very qualified and mature for teaching.

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