PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Students returned to school this week at Evergreen Public Schools in Vancouver, and the district is seeing many changes this year.

Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic was challenging for educators, but it was even harder on the kids.

Educators in the district said they will be feeling the effects of the pandemic for many years to come. They said these next school years, they will be engaging in “ambitious instruction,” while also supporting the social emotional well-being of the students.

Superintendent John Boyd knows there is work to be done to close any gaps that may have developed these last few years. He said it’s going to take going beyond the text books to close them.

“We know that we’re going to have to pay attention to that,” said Boyd. “And make sure that we’re teaching our students those social skills, paying attention to their emotional states and having the support available for them when and if they need that help as well.”

That will include continuing to give kids the support and attention they need, which Boyd said for that to happen, however, they need ample staff and he said they are still hiring.

He added the district is fully staffed for teachers this year, but are in need of 180 more hires district wide for different positions. Most of the open positions are for special education services. Those interested in applying can visit the district’s website here.

“Staffing side is a little bit more challenging for us, but we’ve got all our principles in place, the majority of our teachers in place, bus drivers, kitchen workers and custodians. So, we’re feeling pretty good about our staffing levels” said Boyd.

Other changes the district is undergoing includes the opening of two new schools — Mountain View High School and Wy’east Middle School. The two schools were made possible by a bond measure.

In addition to the new schools, school officials said Heritage High School will also be getting a swanky remodel.

Watch the full interview with Superintendent John Boyd in the video player below.