ROCHESTER, Minn. - School districts nationwide are facing a shortage of workers and that includes Rochester Public Schools. The district is planning to hire workers for a wide variety of positions with a job fair on Wednesday.
Interim Superintendent Dr. Kent Pekel said whoever comes on board needs to be ready to help students succeed. "At the core of this is teaching and learning. Our primary mission is helping kids succeed academically, socially, emotionally," he explained. "To be ready to thrive in life. So the challenges of the moment have not taken my focus and I think our focus off those things and I want people out there to know that."
The district has nearly 18,000 students and just under 2,000 staff members. The first day of school was more than two weeks ago and since then, RPS has reported 81 total cases of COVID-19, while 206 students and staff have needed to quarantine. Dr. Pekel explained he's confident in the Safe and Open Schools Plan they have in place, so future numbers could remain lower than other districts in the state.
Even though RPS is in need of more educators, Dr. Pekel said the staff is proving to be resilient. "I don't want to sound like sunshine and roses, this is a tough time. But I have to say the positive energy that I have encountered among Rochester Public School staff about being back has been off the charts," he explained. "It's been reassuring. People want to keep schools open this year. They don't want to go back to full distance learning."
The district is needing special and general education teachers, bus drivers, paraprofessionals and nurses among several other positions.
The job fair goes from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, all happening at the Edison Administration building on 7th Street southwest.