‘Every class is filled’: Chesterfield Schools works to fill vacancies as students head back to class

The school division is taking multiple approaches to fill more than 100 open teaching positions
The school division is taking multiple approaches to fill open teaching positions.
Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 12:38 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 22, 2022 at 12:44 PM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - On Monday morning, Larry Clarke walked up to Beasley Elementary School with his wife to take his four children to class on their first day of school in Chesterfield

“It’s exciting, but scary too,” said Clarke.

Chesterfield students return to class.
Chesterfield students return to class.(Source;NBC12 | NBC12)

Clarke said his sons are going into fourth and fifth grade while his twin girls are heading into their first day of kindergarten.

“It’s their first time being around a bunch of kids and a big school,” he said. “They went to Pre-K last year, so it was a little different and now it’s more guarded, but they’ll be okay.”

Hundreds of Chesterfield students head back to class on Monday.
Hundreds of Chesterfield students head back to class on Monday.(Source;NBC12 | NBC12)

Clarke walked his daughters up the steps of the school for their first day of class, a place with a lot of meaning for him.

“I used to go here when I was a kid,” Clarke said. “It’s kind of cool that they go here too.”

Clarke’s kids were among the thousands of Central Virginia students who went back to class on Monday.

“It’s just the excitement of our kids are here,” said Chesterfield Schools Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty. “Our parents want their kids back in school.”

The start of the school year comes as school divisions across Virginia face teacher shortages.

On Aug. 10, Chesterfield Schools reported nearly 245 teacher vacancies. Superintendent Daugherty said when he last checked the amount of vacancies this weekend, it was down below 200. However, he adds the school division is able to cover these vacancies in several ways.

“From long-term subs to annual to career changers to people who have degrees, but we’re really excited about the projection as we look forward about what we’re able to do to make sure we have all our classes covered,” Daugherty said.

He adds they’ve been keeping close tabs on this coverage to make sure they’re ready for the first day of school.

“This past weekend, basically everybody in the district was working Saturday and Sunday,” he said. “We’re running right now 98.7 percent coverage with hiring, so we feel really good about where we are.”

As the school buses roll out, Larry Clarke is hoping for a good school year ahead.

“The pandemic was crazy, but things feel like they are returning back to normal,” he said. “Hopefully soon, they don’t have to wear their mask anymore, but for now it’s a thing. It should be a fun year.”

Chesterfield students in sixth and ninth grade also returned to the classroom Monday. All other middle and high school students will head back to class on Tuesday.