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NEISD mother volunteering, teaching as COVID contributes to staff absences

Even though Connie Carrington is working full-time elsewhere, she wants to make a difference on campus.

SAN ANTONIO — A local mother is answering the call to help out North East Independent School District after district leaders sent a letter to parents informing them on ways to volunteer or substitute teach following a record-breaking number of teachers and staff calling out due to the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, Connie Carrington volunteered at Lopez Middle School, where her son attends school, and she serves as PTA president. 

"I'm helping out at the school a little bit to help them with some things," said Carrington. 

This isn't the first time she has volunteered on her son's school campus. She began helping out last year when the district pushed a similar call for assistance. Carrington has helped out in the cafeteria, cleaned tables and swept floors.

"I think it's a great idea [to help] because the district does a good job of vetting and getting people trained," she said.

Some parents have voiced concerns about the call for help online, but Carrington said she trusts who the district is allowing on its campuses since background checks are required. The mother, who also has a full-time job elsewhere, also substitute teaches when it's needed. She's already done more than a dozen days in the classroom this school year.

"I've already gotten texts from teachers saying, 'Okay, block this day, block that day," Carrington said.

Like many teachers and staff out due to COVID, Carrington recently had to step away too. She said her family tested positive suddenly, but now, she is back and ready to get into the classroom. She hopes others will join her.

"It's super simple. You just go on the NEISD website and fill out the paperwork," she said.

According to the district's website, volunteers need a background check. If they pass, then a staff volunteer liaison will be in touch for campus assignments. 

For substitutes, there is an application process which includes a short test, proof of a bachelor's degree, background check and references. No substitute certification is required for the paid gig.

Carrington encourages anyone who has ever considered helping on campus to do it.

“Even if you sign up and only sub for three days this year, you have made a difference and helped somebody," she said.

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