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Rapid City Area Schools could see a decrease in both students and teachers

Could Rapid City schools have a teacher shortage this fall?
Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 5:41 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Rapid City Area School board is having a special meeting tonight to discuss their plan to re-open for the Fall semester amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although they’re in the process of finalizing a plan, Rapid City Area Schools might not only see fewer students this fall due to the coronavirus but perhaps fewer teachers as well.

Could Rapid City schools have a teacher shortage this fall? In a recent school district survey, a number of teachers said they were considering not coming back to work, an alarming number according to retired teacher Ron Riherd.

“That’s a huge hit,” said Riherd. “We have right around 1000 teachers. 5%, you know, you’re talking 50 teachers. In the large scheme of things that doesn’t seem like much. But if you’re going to take 50 teachers away from a classroom, you now have 50 classrooms that you’ve got to decide how are we going to teach these students.”

The school district says they aren't worried.

“We really wanted to gauge how many teachers we needed to hire, if we had a lot of teachers and staff that were considering not coming back due to COIVD, so we just really needed an idea,” said Katy Urban, RCAS communications manager. “And it turns out, at this point, we don’t have very many teacher openings so that’s not an issue. We do have a number of classified positions like bus drivers and food service workers.”

But many teachers have privately stated to KOTA Territory news that they're concerned about returning to the classroom this fall and are considering not coming back.

“If you’re a retired teacher, you’re really happy you’re retired right now because this will be a huge challenge...,” said Riherd. “I don’t think I’d be a very good online teacher, to be honest with you. But, if I’ve got to do all that and then help out that sub, which I have to do because I want those kids to learn and be successful too. It just adds another item to the plate of the teacher, which is pretty full right now.”

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