BESSEMER, Ala. (WIAT)- School is back in session for several counties and districts in two weeks, and they’re looking to fill critical vacancies before students return to the classroom.

Teachers, substitutes, custodians, and cafeteria workers are a few positions open.

Some school systems only have a few positions to fill before school starts, while others have many jobs that need filling.

Alabama State Education job board has over two thousand jobs available.

Jefferson and Shelby County need to fill 125 certified positions total.

Last week, CBS 42 News reported Birmingham City Schools had over 150 vacancies.

That number has decreased, and they hope to fill them before school starts on August 8th.

“We have different pathways to teach,” Birmingham City Schools Human Resource Officer Jennika Oglesby said. “We are just asking for candidates to have a conversation with us and see what the most appropriate pathway for them to engage in the education field is.”

Birmingham City Schools have filled many positions through small job fairs over the past few weeks.

Classrooms could become overcrowded if they don’t have enough teachers in schools.

Human resource officer for Bessemer City Schools, Dr. Corvetta Clasberry, tells CBS 42 that not enough teachers could mean students would have to start school with a substitute.

She says cafeteria workers and custodians are critical positions they’re looking to fill immediately.

“We have to have our building cleaned for our students, and our students have to be fed,” Clasberry said. “If we’re short in those areas, then we’re shortchanging our students, and that is very critical, and we are in desperate need; right now.”

Teachers taking positions at other schools and increasing enrollment are two things that leave schools understaffed.

The covid-19 pandemic is also a key factor.

Founder of new charter school Empower Community School Dr. Anthony Oliver, says schools have struggled to retain staff since the pandemic.

Many educators have left to pursue other career ventures.

“I think it’s the stresses of the job,” Oliver said. “We’re trying to create an environment where they can relive those stresses. So, for instance, all our teachers don’t have to do lunch period every day. So they have a solid thirty minutes to eat, decompress and relax.

He and other education leaders hope a normal learning environment this school year will help retain teachers.