Adapting to changes during COVID-19.
Like districts around the country, JEFCOED was forced to close all schools and transition to online learning in March 2020 because of COVID-19. The district resumed in-person instruction in the fall but gave parents the flexibility to have their children continue remotely if desired and allowed teachers to conduct remote instruction if needed.
“That presented us with a lot of challenges for special education,” Wirt says. “We have an individualized education plan (IEP) for each of our 5,200 special needs students and needed to implement many of them remotely. Our paraeducators were able to do so effectively and under the guidance of our special education teachers. They received new training for maintaining student engagement, focus and attentiveness in an online setting,” says Wirt.
“We also lost some paraeducators due to retirements or resignations, or due to concerns about COVID-19, and so we used Kelly to fill those positions quickly,” she says. “That helped us to maintain consistency during this challenging time, which is so important for these students.”
Benefits of the partnership.
Sandy Jolivette, Human Resources Director for JEFCOED, says the paraprofessionals are a highlight of the partnership, and Kelly also provides all the district’s short-term and long-term substitute teachers, as well as Child Nutrition Department staff, teachers’ aides, bus aides and office personnel when needed.
“Handling all of these positions, especially substitute educators, had become overwhelming for our district office. It made much more sense to use Kelly Education, and we have seen significant cost savings as well,” Jolivette says.
From her perspective as director of such a large and diverse special education department, Wirt says the partnership with Kelly, and the paraprofessionals they provide, have been highly beneficial.
“There are a variety of advantages, including improved efficiency, reduced turnaround time for new hires, and reduced administrative burdens,” Wirt says. “I also appreciate how Kelly Education works hard training their employees in specific special education skills, such as verbal de-escalation techniques. That is so important. Kelly also makes a true effort to ensure that the employee is a good fit for the position, which we appreciate a great deal.”
Overall, Wirt says JEFCOED plans to continue working with Kelly Education for these important positions. “They have been so helpful, communicative and collaborative. It has been a very solid relationship. I would highly recommend Kelly Education to other districts.”
Jolivette agrees. “I’m not only the HR Director, I’m also a parent of students in our schools, and they tell me great things about the substitute teachers in their classrooms. It’s reassuring to know that we work with a company that cares about the quality of the personnel they are placing in our schools and classrooms,” Jolivette says.
“We can’t know for sure what the future holds, but I know we’ll continue to work with Kelly,” Jolivette adds. “I can say with certainty that if we have needs or ideas, Kelly Education will be there to work with us. They’re always willing to help and are making sure our needs are met.”
Article commissioned by Kelly Education and written by District Administration.