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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A perfect storm of quarantines, layoffs, retirements and resignations has public schools scrambling to get enough bodies to keep school afloat next semester.

Why it matters: Districts are desperate to keep classes going and are stretched thin by the sometimes competing needs of in-person and distance learning.

  • Public-school employment in November was down 8.7% from February, and at its lowest level since 2000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some schools are even considering allowing COVID-positive, asymptomatic teachers to continue working, the Wall Street Journal reports.

  • Many are also aggressively recruiting substitute teachers, offering bonuses and waiving certification requirements, per AP.

Between the lines: Many states still haven't figured out where educators and school personnel should fit in the priority list for COVID vaccines.

In Washington, D.C.: A union agreement says teachers may be required to return to classrooms unless they have medical exemptions.

  • In Indiana and Connecticut, college students are answering the call to substitute teach and could be paid to help supervise classrooms.

The bottom line: The nationwide teacher shortage has left nothing but teachers with burnout, frustrated parents and even a lower education quality.

Go deeper: America's teachers are running on empty

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

Ex-CDC director Tom Frieden on the next COVID-19 vaccines

Americans fortunate enough to receive COVID vaccines now, outside of clinical trials, are getting shots made by either Pfizer or Moderna. But newly released data from Novavax and Johnson & Johnson suggests that more vaccines could be on the way, with J&J's requiring a single dose.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the news and why it matters with Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, as COVID-19 variants spread globally.

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.