Parents step in to help amid staffing shortage at Palo Alto school

"Because of omicron and all the rising cases we are seeing, there is a desperate need for bodies at the school."

Wednesday, January 12, 2022
Parents step in amid staffing shortage in Palo Alto
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Bay Area parents are volunteering at schools due to a staffing shortage.

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Palo Alto parents are doing their part in helping struggling school districts amid a staffing shortage.

"I have an environmental engineering degree from MIT," said Kaitlyn Liao, a parent volunteering at Greene Middle School.

Yet this week - she is helping run COVID testing and working in the library to help keep the school open.

RELATED: Palo Alto Unified asking parents to fill support staff positions stretched thin during pandemic

"Because of omicron and all the rising cases we are seeing, there is a desperate need for bodies at the school," Liao said. "Luckily this community is fortunate enough to have parents super passionate about keeping schools open and that's why we are here to keep schools open."

Palo Alto has some of the most qualified volunteers you could find.

"We had a story of a Gunn High School parent engineering professor at Stanford offer to get credentialed and teach classes. Everything from helping custodian clean classrooms to supervision to answering phones to even teaching classes. I think the parents have been amazing," said Sebastian Benavidez, Greene Middle School Principal.

RELATED: Gov. Newsom executive order will help keep Bay Area schools open for in-person learning

Many of the jobs on campus are credentialed -- like food handling. But two of the food workers at this school are out sick right now, so parents will do the uncredentialled job of working at the food serving window or supervising the lunch tables.

"Parents are super happy about it, those who did lunch supervision yesterday were so happy just to see the energy all these kids have," said Chris Hurtt, parent volunteer.

RELATED: Superintendent, district staff filling in as substitutes amid Bay Area teacher shortage

They put the call out for help on Sunday- and they say the response was immediate.

"When that call came out - and I received the dashboard, 105 parents out of our 800 parents volunteered. I just think that is absolutely amazing," said Principal Benavidez.