College districts face substitute shortages amid COVID-19

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) — Some school districts are now struggling with dramatic shortages of substitute teachers, made worse by teachers absent because of COVID-19.

District 11 alone has lost about 70 substitutes, with many giving different reasons as to why they’re not coming back this year.

District 11 Spokesperson Devra Ashby believes some of them may not feel safe because of COVID-19. Many substitutes the district has in its pool are retired, putting them in the at-risk age group.

Academy District 20 said they too are experiencing a shortage.

“Our pool is actually larger than it has ever been. However, when we reach out to come in and guest teach with us they’re hesitant and there’s a little trepidation to teach,” said D20 spokesperson Allison Cortez.

She says last week, four high schools were forced to transition into all e-learning, and the district needed at least 250 substitute teachers in one day.

Ashby said schools in D11 have also been forced to shut down, but not just because of exposures.

“A lot of the reasons why schools in our area will go remote is because we just don’t have the staff to cover in-person instruction,” she said.

With cases in El Paso County on the rise and a lack of available substitutes, we wondered what happens if a teacher gets sick?

“What we have to do is pull from staff most likely within the building,” Ashby said.

Both districts want to remind the community schools are doing what they need to abide by public health guidelines.

“We’ve gotten all of the people who need to be isolated and quarantined out of that building and then we’ve sanitized and deep cleaned it’s actually a very safe building to be in,” Cortez said.

The need is so great, both Ashby and Cortez encourage anyone to apply, especially those who are considering a career in education. To be a substitute in Colorado, you must have a bachelor’s degree and pass a background check.

To apply visit District 11 and Academy District 20’s websites.

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