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Carroll County Faces Teacher Shortage As Hundreds Request Leave, While Schools In Baltimore City Lay Off More Than 400 Amid Financial Crunch

WESTMINSTER, Md. (WJZ) -- The president of the Carroll County teachers union says educators remain concerned about their safety—with many scheduled to return to the classroom Monday and some students coming back for in-person instruction two weeks later.

"Their anxiety levels and stress levels are through the roof," said Teresa McCulloh of the Carroll County Education Association. "We are concerned with masking, the cleaning and sanitizing and maintaining the six-foot social distancing."

Wednesday was the deadline for teachers to submit leave requests. At least 238 are taking personal and medical leave, creating a shortage larger than any she can ever remember in her more than three decades as an educator in the county.

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"I'm going to predict that that number has grown," McCulloh said. "We are really concerned that the weight is going to fall on our educators who remain in the system."

She says teachers are working harder than ever and believes online instruction is working. "Educators and students are thriving in our virtual model. They are meeting success," she said.

Administrators say teachers in 90 percent of the schools in Carroll County have requested leave.

"We're not going to find 200 teachers out on the streets who just haven't found a job somewhere. Substitutes are always hard to come by," Dr. Steven Lockhart, Carroll County's superintendent, told school board members last week.

Wednesday was also the deadline for school systems statewide to submit enrollment numbers, which are tied to funding.

Thousands of students have simply not shown up—even online—leading to dire budget predictions.

More than 400 employees in Baltimore City schools are facing layoffs.

"We are rapidly running out of devices. We are now under one thousand," Dr. Brian Scriven, the Chief Administration and Operations Officer, told the school board Tuesday night. "Devices will continue to go out. We are not going to withhold any devices from students who are in need. ...Due to the shortage, there is a challenge in terms of swapping out devices in a timely fashion because we just don't have them."

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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