Columbus school staff busier than usual amid rising Covid cases

COLUMBUS, Kan.–Rising Covid-19 cases in the community have caused Columbus superintendent Brian Smith to become a triple threat:

Superintendent, principal… and substitute teacher.

“It gets pretty serious when the superintendent has to substitute. But I’ve had to do that and I’ve enjoyed it too,” Smith said.

He says the need to fill in really picked up last week when more staff were staying home due to Covid-19.

“We had staff start calling in, but our people have been amazing and they’ve stepped up and they filled whatever voids we’ve had and we’ve been able to keep school going, so I’m proud.”

While the district hasn’t had many issues with students becoming sick, the current spread of Covid has affected their teaching staff, even their substitutes.

“Well, we’ve had of course staff that came down with it or some of our substitutes actually have come down with it. We’ve had several who just got back from having to go through the protocols of Covid, but they’ve come back and subbed for us. so yeah, that’s been a big problem”

The need for substitutes keeps subs like Maggie Mooney busy. In addition to being a substitute for the Columbus School District, she also works with Galena, Riverton, and Baxter Springs, so she’s seen firsthand the hardships schools are facing right now with staffing.

“It’s hard”, she said. “It’s hard on secretaries, it’s hard on kids, it’s hard on the teachers, it’s hard on the principals, everybody, it’s just hard.”

Although for Mooney, she’s ready for whatever the schools may throw at her.

“I can see where people don’t like being called at 7:00 in the morning and say, ‘can you be here by 8:00?’ But I just take it. that’s just the way that day is going to be, and go with the flow.”

Mooney said she loves her job, especially when she can see the positive impact firsthand.

“You know, it’s so rewarding. It’s when a child sees you and says, ‘oh, I’m so glad you’re here for us today and it’s the students. I’ve seen a big change in them. they thank us for being here as a sub and that didn’t happen before covid. you were just, you know, you were just here. but are you going to be back again tomorrow? and Mrs. Mooney who will you be tomorrow? and thank you so much for coming today,’ and that just makes your day, it truly does.”

Superintendent Smith also said that despite it being more difficult to keep normal school operations going, they believe they’ll get through this sometime in the future.