RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Thousands of students in North Carolina will head back to the classroom in just a few weeks, but they’ll be met with hundreds of staff vacancies.

If the spots aren’t filled, the learning process for students could be significantly impacted.

“We’d potentially look at putting a sub in the classroom, or we could even combine some of our grade levels in the smaller classrooms, for instance like a 1-2 combination class,” Valerie Newton, with Sampson County Schools said.

CBS 17 reached out to districts across the state to see how many open spots they have. Here’s what we’ve heard back:

  • Cumberland County Schools: 297 total open positions.
  • Durham County Schools: 270 total open positions.
  • Granville County Schools: 64 open teacher positions.
  • Sampson County Schools: 35 open teacher positions.

One factor contributing to the vacancies is less students becoming teachers. The Department of Education says between 2014 and 2020, degrees in education dropped 7.1 percent. For those who do become teachers, a lack of resources, and pay, sometimes push them out of the field.

“We know that our pay here in North Carolina has not kept pace to our fellow neighboring states and that is one of the issues of why we have teachers forced to leave the profession,” said Tamika Walker Kelly, the President of the North Carolina Association of Educators.

Wake County Schools have not released their numbers on open positions yet, they say they should be available next week.