Helping Schools in a Pandemic

It’s been more than two years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In that time, two new school years have begun and the impact of the pandemic continues. The Georgetown View reached out to GISD to learn and share some of the ways our community can help and support the needs in our schools. 

a NEW NORMAL

In the past, the basics of a teacher’s day might have included assembling and organizing the day’s materials, instructing students during class time, grading papers and cleaning up the classroom after the bell, and preparing a lesson plan before going home. Today, even without the double duty of online learning, teachers and staff continue to juggle supplemental roles and responsibilities unforeseen in a pre-pandemic world. 

All over Texas, as pandemic conditions persist, teachers, principals, and staff are greeting students in the drop-off line, filling in as crossing guards and cafeteria attendants, or even staying late to provide custodial support, in addition to daily classroom sanitizing.  

IN THE CLASSROOM

Elizabeth McFarland

While many in the district are graciously wearing multiple hats to help each other, GISD is calling for more substitutes to alleviate the burden on these pandemic heroes. Elizabeth McFarland, newly appointed president of the Board of Trustees, says, “The substitute shortage is an important factor in every school’s daily operation. We discussed options and possible solutions at a recent workshop because we just don’t have enough folks signed up to fill those classrooms.” 

Melinda Brasher, executive director for GISD Communications, said, “The need for more supplemental staff in Georgetown is not unique, but we are fortunate to be in a much better position than other ISDs where administrators are in the classrooms or canceling bus routes.”

Every district needs plenty of substitutes for sick days or when compliance obligations draw teachers out of the classroom for professional learning. This is required for all teachers to maintain their certifications. Instruction takes place during the school day because it is not reasonable to schedule outside of work hours or on weekends, but it does require teachers to be outside of their classrooms. 

Elizabeth says, “Simply put, everything can’t come to a halt because of the pandemic. As a district, we value and facilitate professional learning for our teachers to be in compliance and improve and augment their skills. Without substitutes, teachers have to cover for each other and end up losing their free and planning periods as a result. It is hard to ask people to consistently manage these multiple duties.”

We are really grateful for the support we have but we do need to get people on board to help us, specifically substitutes and bus drivers.

Melinda Brasher

YOU CAN HELP

SUBSTITUTES

Last year, to encourage more applicants, the district created the Sub For Us campaign and recruited college students who were learning online and had time on their hands. Melinda says, “This year, we are hoping to hear from retired people, former teachers, or stay-at-home moms who are looking for opportunities to spend the day and engage meaningfully with students. The job is very flexible and is a great opportunity to have a positive impact in our schools.” 

Juan Martinez, Supervisor at Cooper Elementary, taking on crossing guard duty at Purl Elementary

Combining flexibility and the chance to make a difference in students’ lives, substituting at GISD can be incredibly rewarding. No special qualifications are required—applicants must have a high school diploma and pass a background check with fingerprints. Assignments  vary and start at $95 per day. “The beauty of substitute jobs,” Melinda adds, “is that you can accept or deny a job based on your needs and schedule.”

That flexibility is the reason one elementary substitute loves her job, which allows her to be a stay-at-home mom while using her skills and earning money for the family. “I wanted to work a few times a week, but I get requests and calls every day and I don’t want to let them down because the need is so great.”

BUS DRIVERS

Melinda says the district is also working around a shortage of bus drivers. “We have drivers doing double duty to keep the routes covered—some work an elementary school then drive over to the middle school. Historically, we have been fortunate to have people in Sun City willing to come out and spend time with kids. It fills their cup when they are far from their grandchildren, but many have stepped away for health reasons.” 

The only requirement for drivers is a CDL license but the district will provide training and testing at no cost for those who wish to make the commitment. “We just need people who love kids.” She adds that bus driver positions and other supplemental staffing are posted on the district’s job board.

Click to SUB FOR US

  • Serve GISD schools
  • Meaningful and impactful way to meet people and help students
  • Flexible schedule; choose the days you’d like to work
  • Great variety of work and grade levels available

STAFFING

Another reason to support the district is the benefits package provided to all full-time employees. Melinda explains, “Drivers, custodians, and teachers alike all receive health benefits and are included in the Texas Retirement System (TRS). Our pension program and benefits make working for GISD a win-win. I often tell people they might get a few dollars more per hour working in retail these days but having your health care paid for is a huge benefit in every sense.” 

Click for all positions and career opportunities at Georgetown ISD. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *