MIAMI (WSVN) - The rise in COVID-19 cases across South Florida is directly impacting staffing at Miami-Dade County Public Schools campuses.

The return from the holidays came with thousands of COVID-related sick calls across the school district.

About 1,700 teachers are said to be out sick across the district on Tuesday, a decrease from Monday.

Outgoing M-DCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho stepped up to fill the gap. He led an environmental science class at Miami Jackson Senior High School, where he got his start in education 31 years ago.

“This issue of climate change is so, so important,” he told students.

The superintendent later discussed his decision to teach the class.

“Right now, we need qualified, certified, caring, compassionate people in the classroom, and why exclude me?” he said. “That’s one of the reasons why I am here.”

Carvalho said support staff, coaches, administrators and substitute teachers are all helping to fill teachers’ positions this week amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“We believe that some teachers were out with COVID, others were out because they needed to supervise their children, who may have been impacted by COVID themselves,” he said.

Bus drivers have also called out in large numbers. Seventy-eight drivers were out Tuesday, a decrease from 94 on Monday.

It was a similar situation in Broward County, where some teachers have had to take on double duty to close the gaps.

“Our teachers are feeling the exhaustion,” said Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union, “and I have to say, I do expect our district to compensate all of your teachers that are going to do extra work, as they compensate management when they get an extra assignment, and that seems to be a problem.”

M-DCPS is now working on a plan to cover the classrooms that teachers are not able to get to.

“I think that leading to the end of this week, we will continue to see a decline in [the] number of absences, but we have contingency plans in place to mitigate against this phenomenon should there be a need to do so,” said Carvalho.

On Tuesday, there were about 700 absences reported among M-DCPS teachers.

Carvalho said he plans to spend a lot of time in the classroom leading up to his departure from Miami within the first two weeks of February. He is expected to start his new position as the superintendent for the Los Angeles Unified School District on March 1.

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