SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — As students continue to show up for their first day of school in Salem, the director for staffing and recruitment said the district has specific needs — but it’s nothing unusual.

“We’re seeing an uptick in need for math and science at the second grade level. This is not new to us,” said Brian Turner. “Our resignations and retirements may be a little higher than they have been in the past, but this is our normal crisis. Enrollment is down across the nation and we are feeling that just like everyone else.”

Even though school is now in session, officials in the Salem-Keizer School District are focused on filling out their staff. They’re also taking advantage of a program that allows someone with just a high school diploma to become a substitute teacher.

Turner also told KOIN 6 News they’ve increased pay for every position in the district. At this time there are 137 openings across all departments.

Teachers are nervous, excited and very busy to kick off a year full of in-person instruction following a few years with pandemic-related modifications. Officials said they understand the students’ needs better this year and learned from what took place last year.

What’s most important for them as a district is restoring relationships with students, Turner said.

“We’re coming back into schools again. The sports seasons are upon us. There’s things we are going to be able to do that we haven’t been able to do for years. We are going to have music events and people in auditoriums and that’s how we reach and change kids lives.”