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Well before COVID-19, school districts were facing a substitute teacher shortage. In fact, EdWeek Research Center recently teamed up with Kelly Education and found that districts can fill just 54% of the 250,000 absences each day.

Now, coronavirus is set to exacerbate the challenge. In the Fall of 2020, educators will need to call in at the first sign of minor symptoms and they may need to quarantine for weeks at a time.

So are there enough substitutes to fill the anticipated holes?

Kelly Education Senior Vice President Nikki Soares says that a downturn in the economy typically leads to an uptick in available substitutes, but this time, things are different.

“Usually in a recessionary period we have a lot of people gravitate towards being a substitute teacher, but obviously this is a bit of an anomaly,” says Soares.

So what are the solutions?

Kelly Education says their research identified the top three solutions to grow the pipeline of substitutes:

  1. higher substitute pay
  2. professional development for substitutes
  3. hiring/assigning substitutes with expertise in the field of the absent teacher.

“Places like maybe in the state of Alabama a lot of our districts pay $65 a day,” says Soares. So an eight hour day works out to just $8.12/hour.

To hear our full interview with Soares, listen to Episode 157 of the Class Dismissed Podcast. You can listen to the latest Episode of Class Dismissed on your favorite podcasting app or iTunes.

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