Schools in need for more substitute teachers after ‘dramatic’ COVID-19 drop off

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — School districts are looking for more substitute teachers for the upcoming school year.

LuAnn Erickson, Director of Human Resources for Southwest Allen County Schools (SACS), said SACS has about half as many short or long-term subs as it did two years ago.

“With COVID, our numbers dropped dramatically,” said Erickson.

She cited a variety of reasons for drop-off, including having to be home with their own children or just not feeling comfortable, and the numbers have never rebounded. While the substitutes have not all comeback, it is still an important role in the district.

“We’ve had some that have come to work for us and not sure if they want to be in education or not and then once they’re in the schools, they realize the impact that they’re having on those kids.”

She said the process to become a substitute is simple; those interested just need to have completed 60 credit hours at the college level, obtain a $15 permit from the Indiana Department of Education and pass a background check with the district. Plus, the district is flexible when it comes to what classes they teach.

“Some substitutes will say, I only want elementary, I only want secondary, so they can be kind of picky on what they want to do or what days of the week they want to work,” said Erickson. “It’s great for a lot of people that do want that flexibility, that need to be home certain days of the week, and other people that have other jobs outside of this, that, you know, they’ll do this one day a week for us, and we’re happy to have that, you know, such an important position for us that it’s really critical that we have our substitute teachers.”

The need for more school workers goes beyond the classroom. SACS is also looking to fill positions for bus drivers, food service works and instructional assistants and that their district likely is not the only one facing these issues.

“I think pretty much every district you talk to is going to say we need substitute teachers,” Erickson said. “I think we’re all struggling to fill the head and some of our substitute teachers will sub here as well as other school districts, so they’ll would kind of share them with some of our employees. So yeah, everybody, I think, has that need this year.”

Erickson also said that substitute teaching can be a great way for people to explore if they really want a career in teaching, and in some cases can even lead to permanent job opportunities.

“We have a lot of our substitute teachers that they’ll start up when they’re going to school and then they continue on, we eventually hire them,” said Erickson. “It’s a good way to kind of get your name out there, and our principals get to see you in action. We’ve hired quite a few teachers from our substitute teacher list.”

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