Some schools are facing substitute teacher shortage

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) –Seven months into the Coronavirus pandemic,  schools are back in session and trying to create some normalcy.

But some say they are having trouble finding substitute teachers when a teacher is absent.

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Walker County Association of Educators says they have about a 73% fill rate for substitutes, when normally is around 93%.

“Two things are happening with the classes. Either Classes are doubled up into other classes, meaning that we have an extreme increase in class size or teachers are filling in during their planning time, which has several implications. We are increasing the risk of exposure to more teachers, it’s burdening these teachers because they now have an additional duty, and it’s time away from the planning time they desperately need,” says Debbie Baker, President of the WCAE.

Bradley County Schools say they are not seeing a major shortage of subs. 

“Our patterns truly have not changed since the beginning of school. Looking at those numbers we may have 2 to 3 unfilled sometimes on a daily basis but looking at last year’s numbers in regards to flu season they were up to 10 and 11,” says Brittany Cannon, Communications Director for BCS.

Cleveland City schools say their fill rate is still in the upper 90s but they are preparing for the possibility of a shortage with flu season approaching while still in  a pandemic. 

“Our concern becomes as we get further along into fall that with the real flu season as things start to crop up , then it might become challenging. To be quite honest there was a substitute shortage prior to Covid-19 to some degree so this added to that a little bit,” says Kelly Kiser, Director of Human Resources for CCS.

Cleveland city schools say that substitute teachers are essential for keeping schools open – ,but that their teachers are willing to help each other out to avoid school closures this year.