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ACPS Superintendent: ‘It is very hard to do recruitment at a time like this’

It’s not the easiest time to recruit teachers. That was the gist of last week’s staff update to the Alexandria School Board.

“It is very hard to do recruitment in a time like this,” Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. told the Board. “Where you’re trying to recruit people into an organization who, one: can’t come and do a tour of the building; two: our new teachers who are just graduating or will be graduating this May. They’re wondering kind of what the state of education is all about.”

ACPS and six other localities is currently engaged in a legal battle with Governor Glenn Youngkin over his executive order removing face mask mandates in public schools.

Board Member Abdel Elnoubi said that Youngkin’s policies affect the morale of educators.

“You know, I grew up in an autocracy and I know these tactics when I see them,” said Elnoubi, who was raised Egypt. ” I just want to tell you all that how much we support you, how much we care about you, and that you have our full support.”

Melanie Kay-Wyatt, acting chief of human resources for ACPS, said schools have had to get creative with substitute teachers, since there are currently an average of about 100 staff absences and vacancies per day within the school system.

“Our administrative staff have been very creative in how they’ve gone in to provide support,” Kay-Wyatt told the Board. “We do have some long-term subs who are trained, qualified to go in to provide support, and we do make sure we use all of our staff to fill in to keep that learning going for our students.”

Kay-Wyatt said that ACPS is scheduled to attend 18 career fairs between now and April, which is a 40% increase over last year.

“We will remain diversity focused on our recruitment efforts to bring back top talents to ACPS, and I’m excited to report that we are have increased the number of fairs that we’re going to attend,” she said.

ACPS staffing woes have increased over the last several years, and last fall, ACPS reported having a shortage of classroom monitorsbus monitors and substitute teachers.

Hutchings said that a full update on ACPS recruitment and retention plan is still a work in progress.

The recruitment video below is posted on the ACPS jobs website and shows classrooms before the pandemic, with unmasked students not worrying about distancing.

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