RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Public School leaders are reporting a drop in teachers heading into week two of the school year. Currently, RPS is short 64 teachers, and, according to school documents, some of the vacancies are driven by the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

“Given that the mandate was not part of teachers’ employment contract when they signed it in June, we have released educators who want to resign to take positions elsewhere,” wrote Superintendent Jason Kamras.

The school board approved the mandate last month, requiring all employees to show proof of vaccination by October 1. RPS became the first division in Central Virginia to make the move.

However, not all employees were on board. Now, the division is combining smaller classes and looking for long-term substitutes and other personnel to fill the vacancies.

“Of course, we will continue to recruit and hire,” Kamras wrote.

Meanwhile, the division is still scrambling to find people to drive their school buses. Right now, RPS is looking to fill 12 vacancies, that, in their absence, have caused headaches so far.

In the first week of school, RPS says students encountered late arrivals at bus stops in the
morning and afternoon and missed stops. Kamras is banking on a $4,000 retention and signing bonus to close the gap.

Additionally, 117 out of 278 food service positions are vacant. School officials say these hires have been deprioritized as the use of a pre-packaged kiosk system goes into effect.