As educators gear up to start another school year, a sizable portion of the 6,000 Catholic schools in the United States are likely facing a shortage of teachers. While staffing gaps in August are nothing new, the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated teacher retirements and attrition. And finding teachers on short notice is not easy. Frequently unable to match the salaries offered by public school districts, it can be difficult to recruit teachers with the ideal combination of deep faith and subject matter expertise.
Moving Courses Online
Rather than quickly hire a teacher who might not be the best fit, Catholic schools can partner with an online education provider like Catholic Virtual to offer courses online. Aside from providing a teacher trained in the course subject matter, online courses can be set up quickly and can accommodate any number of students and a school’s existing schedule. With a mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning elements, students have flexibility as to when and how they will access coursework. Students also learn how to self-pace and learn independently, skills they will need for success in higher education and careers.
In the 2020-21 school year, Catholic Virtual helped over 10 schools across the country offer courses in math, science, foreign languages, and elective courses, to nearly 300 students. These courses included honors and Advanced Placement sections. One school was St. Maria Goretti Catholic High School in Maryland. The school partnered with Catholic Virtual to offer physics (including Advanced Placement), AP Biology, and electives in graphic design and American Sign Language. Following a positive response, the school continued the partnership for the 2021-22 school year; Catholic Virtual will be providing Latin instruction to 60 students.
St. Joseph Catholic High School in Hawaii offered 15 additional classes through Catholic Virtual. Matthew Eftink, the school’s STEM chair, noted, “These were classes like Anatomy or AP Environmental Science, courses the kids were interested in, but we did not have the expertise in the faculty to teach. With the help of the partnership with Catholic Virtual, we were able to deliver more content to students at a reduced cost, and without a drop in quality.”
Choosing an Online Education Partner
When considering an online education partner, schools should look for a partner who understands the integration of faith into academics, is accredited, and provides a proven delivery system that is robust and accessible. Ideally, students should only need to log in to their learning management system once to access their courses and assignments. There should be regular communication between the teachers and parents and school staff to monitor and track student progress. And each course’s curriculum, assignments and assessments should be designed for online learning, with teachers trained in online education.
Catholic Virtual has been helping Catholic schools fill in teacher gaps for nearly a decade. Fully accredited by Cognia and with over 200 K-12 courses in core subjects, theology, and electives, Catholic Virtual combines high-quality academics with Catholic values and personalized attention. Students gain skills in communication, virtual collaboration, and independent learning, which they will need for success in college and beyond.
While facing a teacher shortage is never easy, Catholic Schools can easily turn to Catholic Virtual and other online education providers to offer classes with the same rigor and breadth as their own school’s courses. Online learning provides a back-pocket solution to a common challenge and ensures continuity in a school’s curriculum.