HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – The countdown to a new school year has begun. Bus drivers are gearing up to make their rounds while students in Hartford gathered to receive backpacks and supplies.

But will there be enough teachers to meet classroom demands?

“The good news is that since we kicked off our hiring season in late spring, we’ve been able to hire 190 teachers,” said Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Hartford Superintendent of Schools.

Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez says there’s still a teacher vacancy rate of 14 percent.

“That means we have 92 classroom vacancies. We have about 110 substitutes, so that is a plan,” Dr. Torres-Rodriguez.

One of the reasons for the vacancies is teachers choosing to retire. COVID-19 is another concern for the district. For two years, the norm has been mask-wearing, social distancing, and vaccinations.

“We just received our guidelines based on the CDC and local guidelines that were released, so we’re still going to slow the mitigation, the hand-washing, masks are optional,” Dr. Torres-Rodriguez said.

Now that the teacher shortage and COVID guidelines have been addressed, getting kids to the classroom has also been a problem.

“We see that there is a dip when they enter 9th grade, so try to make sure they have support during those transition grades. We also hear that some students did take on jobs during the pandemic,” Dr. Torres-Rodriguez said.

It’s a problem the district is watching closely as it gets closer to August 29, which is the first day of school.