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Substitute teacher shortages plague local districts

An inconvenience for some, a major issue for others
Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 11:30 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Monday, Franklin County sent the letter many parents dreaded. It read, in part, that the district will “initiate all virtual instruction” for middle and high school students for the next two weeks.

The cause?

“We had 19 individuals out of the building because they’re being quarantined,” said Franklin County Superintendent Mark Church.

Church points out the district was already short-staffed, and it just doesn’t have enough substitute teachers to fill all the gaps.

“We’ve had to have secretaries at various points step into a class, even administrators,” he said.

It’s a trend we’re seeing across the entire region, driven, at least in part, by COVID-19.

“I think that’s just due to the fact that we have a lot of substitutes who are older, or feel like they’re in an endangered class, or just aren’t comfortable coming into work,” said Jim Bradshaw, the director of Human Resources for Roanoke County Schools.

Bradshaw notes it’s not just teachers. Substitute bus drivers, bus aides, nutrition substitutes and more are needed in the county.

“It definitely puts a strain on our buildings,” he said.

Districts across our region have been struggling with the problem for months. Many are advertising open substitute positions, and even offer training for those who need it.

“Probably every other week we’re running substitute training,” said Bradshaw.

Roanoke County is starting to make a dent in the problem, but the need for subs there, and elsewhere, isn’t going away.

“We could certainly use more,” said Mark Church.

Most districts have links or phone numbers on their website where you can apply, including Franklin and Roanoke Counties.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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