FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) -- As the coronavirus pandemic continues, more parents are sending their Fort Wayne Community elementary students back to school.
Those extra students in class means the district needs more teachers to teach them in person.
"Several hundred students have come back to in person learning, which makes it very difficult to keep that ideal social distance," said district spokesperson Krista Stockman.
About 1500 more FWCS elementary students are back in class than the first semester.
In order to maintain proper social distancing, and after already hiring three, the district still needs to hire seven more teachers for those kids so they can be spread out over several rooms.
"Our remote teachers had been working from classroom spaces. We're going to move them to different areas and then the new teachers will take over those classrooms," she said.
The president of the Fort Wayne Education Association says she's pleased the district is taking social distancing so seriously.
"As more in person kids show up, we can't just cram them into crowded classrooms because we're trying to keep space as best we can, and it is not an easy thing," Sandra Vohs said.
Stockman says district leaders are targeting -- but not limiting their teacher search to -- a specific demographic: education majors who graduated in December.
"They usually don't have as many job prospects, because again, schools usually aren't typically looking for as many teachers in the middle of the year. So we're really reaching out, looking for those December grads to see if we can find enough to fill the positions," Stockman said.
Once hired on, those teachers will be well-situated for staying on in the fall, because FWCS received federal pandemic funding to help with social distancing in class.
Vohs says it would be a great foot in the door.
"We still have a teaching shortage and we have people who retire, and just getting qualified teachers in the district, it's a good thing," she said.
However, as more and more kids go back to school, that has not stopped the large numbers of teachers who have to quarantine because of an exposure.
Fort Wayne Community is still formulating contingency plans for the fall in case the pandemic has slowed enough to allow all students to return to in person learning, and Vohs says it will be important for health departments to issue guidelines and benchmarks to say what is safe and who may still need to quarantine.
To apply for teaching positions or other openings at Fort Wayne Community Schools, go to this website.