One Thing You Can’t Get On Black Friday (In This Pandemic): Enough Substitute Teachers

I work in a school system that has over 80 schools, 50,000+ students, and according to the official school system website “employs more than 7,200 people, including about 4,200 classroom and part-time teachers.”

There are supposedly around 1000 substitute teachers on the official sub list in the county.

That does not mean that there are 1000 people ready to go to any school on any day for any amount of time even when there is no pandemic. Those who serve as substitutes can accept whatever openings that are offered.

Some only want to sub in elementary settings or strictly be in high schools. Some only will sub in certain schools because of travel issues. Some will only sub on certain days. Some will only take the job if it is for certain subjects or even teachers.

Today’s COVID-19 Dashboard has these numbers for my school district:

That means according to this VERY CONSERVATIVE data list, nearly 5% of the school system’s staff is already in quarantine.

When reopening plans have been shared in different systems there seems to be one common denominator: they have been planned with the most ideal situations in mind.

Conditions will not remain “ideal” for the plans being rolled out.

Many colleges spent the entire summer coming up with various ways to keep the spread of the coronavirus at bay during the first part of the school year. Classes were both remote and in person with social distancing. Large open spaces were provided for students to be able to stay distanced. Use of “revival” tents with WiFi were common and the weather was nice enough to promote more open air events.

Yet some of those schools sent students home within weeks: students who were high school graduates and were old enough to be considered adults.

Now many systems are looking to open up buildings to hybrid Plan B variations or full reopening Plan A for elementary, middle, and high schools right after the holidays.

Most public schools in the state do not have the resources to even outfit teachers and staff with proper PPE.

The weather will get colder soon. Flu season is already ramping up. Kids change classes. Hallways could still get crowded. And most people do not have the kind of health insurance that a president gets.

So, how deep is the substitute teacher pool and how willing are people on that list to take a job in a school where a teacher or students have been told to stay home and quarantine?

It “sure as hell ain’t” 1000 in this school system. Why would a substitute want to come to work at a school where the person he/she is replacing is being quarantined for something that very well could have been contracted there?

And what is a school system prepared to do for a substitute who is forced to quarantine because of possible exposure on the job?

And considering that many students will still opt to stay home for remote learning, the teaching force will be stretched thin to accommodate instruction on more than one “campus.” Are 1000 substitute teachers even trained to deliver material virtually and in-person at the same much less be able to work with the technology?

Some things to consider.

Because I know that this one is not available.

A Substitute-Teacher Culture Leaves Students Floundering - Market Brief