Millville school district shortens school day to deal with staffing shortages

Memorial High School, Millville Senior High School and Lakeside Middle School in Cumberland County are all dismissing early, beginning this week, to deal with staffing shortages.
The district is trying something new to help with staffing shortages due to COVID-19 by dismissing students early. They say a shortage of substitute teachers and staff out sick meant many students were spending their classes in the gym on Google Classroom instead of in front of a teacher.
“It started in October and then escalated right before the winter break, and parents were calling me up saying my kid has been in the gym all day. And I look and it was two blocks, which is two 90-minute blocks,” says Superintendent Tony Trongone, of Millville Public Schools.
Trongone says this will last the next four weeks. Students now receive in-person instruction for their four blocks, just shortened to 63 minutes, and shifting all teachers prep and lunch periods to the end of the day. The district says they are offering $175 a day for subs.
“Maybe they should offer them a little bit better pay, and maybe people would be willing to come out and work in COVID,” says parent Kisha Jennings. “It’s hard, but some people will do a little bit more for a little bit more money.”
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They say they're hoping a downward trend in cases will put them in a better spot in four weeks and the school day will go back to normal, with Trongone stressing the option is better than going virtual.
“We saw the significant loss, whatever the term you want to use, loss of learning or loss of schooling, and the impact that it had on student development,” says Trongone.
This is only for middle and high school. They say preschool and elementary schools will remain full day.