School districts across the state lack substitute teachers

Posted at 4:20 PM, Oct 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-27 10:18:13-04

KUNA — UPDATE: As of 7 p.m. Monday, there are three classes of students at Hubbard Elementary that have been asked to quarantine for 14 days. The district is extending the remote learning for another week. Students are expected to return in person on Monday, Nov. 9.

ORIGINAL: Three staff members from Hubbard Elementary School have tested positive for coronavirus, and one is in quarantine after exposure.

"It's a very small school; it serves kids K-3, so that was a significant impact to the staff," said Kuna School District spokesperson Allison Westfall. "We made a decision to put that school in remote learning for at least a week."

The Kuna School District also cites a lack of substitute teachers. Westfall says there are 30 subs for the entire Kuna School District, but they're looking for more.

Idaho Education Association President Layne McInelly says many across the state are looking for substitutes.

"Before the pandemic, we knew we had a sub shortage, and the pandemic has exacerbated the problem," said McInelly.

McInelly says some opted out of subbing this year because of health concerns and would not join back until they felt the reopening plans were safe.

"I reached back out to those subs, and they are still not subbing because of the concerns of the pandemic," said McInelly.

The lack of substitute teachers also adds a burden to full-time teachers. McInelly says teachers lose time typically spent making lesson plans and collaborating because they need to fill in.

McInelly says pay is likely the most significant factor. Substitute teachers typically make less than $100 a day.

"Sub pay around the state is far below what they could make working for, let's say, Amazon," said McInelly. "Looking at 'should I substitute teach and make very little or should I work for another company?' is what these people are looking at. Districts need to incentivize people to work in their school districts."

The Kuna School District currently has an incentive to get more subs to the district and allocate subs to where they're needed most.

"When we know of significant absences, do we put our substitute resources there, or are we able to look at that school, have it go in remote learning, and then still have subs available for the absences in other places in the district," said Westfall.