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Fordland, Marshfield School Districts raise concerns over shortage of substitute teachers

Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 9:13 PM CDT
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WEBSTER COUNTY, Mo. (KY3) - Many school districts across the Ozarks are starting their second week back at school.

Marshfield Superintendent Mike Henry says he’s concerned about a shortage in substitute teachers as the school year continues.

”It’s something that I’m definitely nervous going forward,” Henry says. “Just as you see the number of different employers just around the area that are struggling to come up with workers and our substitutes are necessary for us to educate children on a daily basis.”

With that potential shortage in subs comes concern over if teachers may have to quarantine if they are exposed to COVID-19. Henry says no teachers have had to quarantine yet, but he says the district has seen how tough it was last school year.

“It’s a hard thing when we’ve got teachers out for weeks at a time,” Henry says. “We definitely learned a lot last school year as we navigated COVID. I’m hopeful that this school year with vaccines readily available that we have a lower number of teachers being quarantined.”

However, there’s also concern over the potential lack of interest for people to become substitute teachers. Henry says a majority of their subs used to be retired teachers but because of the pandemic, many have not been returning.

“Being a sub isn’t just something you sign up and do,” Henry says. “There’s a process to make sure that you’re sub certified and so that time lapse between deciding that’s something you wanna do and making sure you’re appropriately certified for that, takes a little time. So that makes the need for us greater.”

Fordland Superintendent Dr. Chris Ford says retired teachers also usually substituted for the district but because of the pandemic, many were concerned for their health.

“I mean they’re cautious not only at school, but when they’re at home going to the grocery store, going to church,” Dr. Ford says. “I think they’re just cautious in general because of their age group.”

That led to the district losing half of their usual sub roster last year, forcing them to think outside the box and be proactive.

“Our district chose to hire two permanent subs in the district who are regular school employees, paid them benefits and that has helped out,” Dr. Ford says.

Dr. Ford says those permanent subs have been busy every day since the school year started.

Henry says Marshfield has also hired some permanent subs. Both districts say this gives them some peace of mind going into the school year.

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