Conn. (WTNH) — There was a shortage of teachers nationally even before the pandemic, so much so that Governor Ned Lamont signed an executive order designed to allow schools more flexibility to address the deficit.

What might be considered would be increasing class sizes and asking teachers to teach extra courses.

“Those are not long-term solutions. Teachers can’t sustain those. We know that large class sizes are unproductive,” Kate Dias, President of the Connecticut Education Association said.

However, it might come to districts that are really feeling a shortage, and, as we know, there’s a disparity in funding between the bigger cities and the suburbs. Now’s the time to get creative, and in Waterbury, they’re doing just that with a new program set to be launched this fall.

“An exciting thing that I want to talk to you about is Waterbury U which is going to afford our paraprofessionals, our teachers, our administrators an opportunity to obtain some credentialing,” Dr. Verna Ruffin, Waterbury Superintendent of Schools, said. “It could definitely influence their pay.”

In some districts, they’re reaching out to teachers who have retired in recent years to come back, and with staffing stretched then, even substitute teachers are in need.

At Amity Regional District No. 5, which covers Bethany, Orange, and Woodbridge, that’s not an issue.

“We have always had a practice of hiring what we call building subs. So those are people who come to school every day,” Jennifer Byars, Amity Superintendent of Schools, said. “It’s like a nice steady constant job, and we’re able to put them into classrooms.”

Some teachers will leave for a district that pays more money, but other improvements have to be made to get people excited again to pursue a career in education.

“We want to make sure that these are places that people want to go to work, people want to feel connected and respected,” Dias said. “I think the real solution is longer kind of ranging and ask the big question of how do we make schools great places to work, as well as great places to learn.”

Additionally, Byars explained that the pandemic has taken a toll on both staff and students, as well as families.

“It certainly is there, but I think we have some strength and resilience to be able to bare the weight of that burden now,” Byars said.

Byars also said there has been more work that has to be done as administrators and less of pandemic-related issues, as well as less of a feeling of thin ice over the last two years.