OAKLAND -- As students returned to classrooms in Oakland for the first day of school Monday, some concerns remained regarding the East Bay school district's teacher shortage.
Masks were optional for Oakland Unified School District students as they came back to class. Of course, teachers are one resource that is anything but optional.
"Right now, we are about 40 teachers short. So with that said, all of our classes are covered with subs at Individual schools," said Oakland Unified spokesperson John Sasaki.
He noted that the district is currently hiring.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf paid a visit to Montclair Elementary to cheer on returning kids and teachers.
"I'm not sure if all of them recognize I'm the mayor, but it's so joyful to see them back in in-person school and not behind computer screens," said Schaaf.
The real task at hand is getting more teachers to apply for the district's open positions. Montclair kindergarten teacher Ms. Tran had some answers.
"Well, decent pay helps. I think that's why the teacher shortages are happening," she said. "The expectations are really astronomical."
The city and school district face a number of challenges in filling the open positions.
"In Oakland, we know we need more teachers, but this is such an expensive city to live in," explained Schaaf. "So we have done a partnership with the district, a program called Teachers Rooted in Oakland where we're helping new teachers afford the cost of living, either by providing them with highly subsidized housing or giving them a direct subsidy to help pay the rent."
Tran said there were other issues that teachers face.
"We really need to have manageable class sizes. A lot of class sizes, especially in Montclair, they're really over the limit right now," she said. "Likely because of the school closures and consolidations that maybe led up to it. But if you look at the upper grades, they're bulging right now."
Schaaf told KPIX to stay tuned, noting that her term as mayor will be ending soon and hinting she plans an announcement regarding help for schools.
"Oakland is trying to help teachers afford to come here and stay here," she said.
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