BOSTON (CBS) – Schools in Boston are dealing with severe staffing shortages on the first day students returned from winter break. More than 1,000 teachers and staff members are out Tuesday across the city.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brenda Cassellius said on Tuesday there are 461 classroom teachers among the 1,000 sick calls.  Not all of the absences are COVID related.

“We do anticipate this number will grow, so I just want to be very transparent about the staffing numbers. It is very challenging,” Cassellius said.

Cassellius said 42 schools in the city are dealing with 20% of their staff members being out.

“This is by far the most we’ve had out that we are aware of,” Boston Teacher’s Union president Jessica Tang said. “Once again in this pandemic it’s been put on educators on the ground and families to try and figure it out. That’s not how it should be. There’s got to be better planning ahead.”

About 60 central office staff members are working in schools Tuesday to help with the teacher shortage.

As of Tuesday, about 52 bus drivers are out, Cassellius said.

No classes have been canceled or moved to remote learning for Tuesday.

The superintendent said the goal is to keep students in the classroom for in-person learning whenever possible. But she said due to the staffing shortages, schools will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

“It is always a rocky start back after school vacation. But today especially we are balancing everything there could be to balance. So it is truly all hands on deck,” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said.

CBSBoston.com Staff