EL PASO COUNTY —
Note: This article has been updated to reflect Colorado Springs School District 11's response to job openings not being related to a hiring freeze earlier this year.
Colorado's teacher shortage is showing up in a bigger way this year with the pandemic. It's reflected in openings for school districts across El Paso County.
In Academy District 20, the largest school district in Colorado Springs- there are about 180 job openings as of Thursday evening. Not all of these positions are for educators, but they are seeing more open positions for teachers than usual.
"We normally, the week before school have about 20 vacancies for teachers," Director for Communications Allison Cortez said, "that's really pretty normal for us we'll have between 15 and 29, this year we're around that 35/40 number."
Cortez says while there's an increase in the number of teachers needed- it's not a dire situation.
"I think the important thing for people to know is the ship is not sinking right now," Cortez said, she added the district has plenty of substitute teachers to begin the school year with. Some schools are better staffed than others.
Whether teachers aren't applying because of the pandemic or more teachers are leaving because of it- is hard to say right now.
"It just seems like folks maybe aren't applying for positions as readily as they did two years ago," Cortez said, "We know that there are folks out there looking who are for positions and there's always been a teacher shortage- COVID has made it more challenging."
District 20 isn't the only school district with more job openings than usual. In other large districts, such as Colorado Springs School District 11, there are about 50 job openings. Communications Dir. Devra Ashby says it's higher than usual.
District 11 did have a hiring freeze earlier this year, Ashby says it is unrelated to the current job openings.
The Pikes Peak Workforce Center is hosting a job fair on August 26th to hire positions in District 11, these include kitchen managers, assistants, and substitutes.
In District 49, about 90 openings are attributed to delayed hiring and higher attrition rates.
Harrison School District 2, which started school this week says the 74 job openings it has are typical around this time of year. There are some positions they added to keep up with demands for the pandemic including five new positions for custodians and school nurses.