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Substitute teacher shortage impacts local schools

Teachers are scrambling to fill classes.

WASHINGTON — Educators say the nationwide substitute teacher shortage has left them scrambling to fill classes. 

Donna Christy, president of the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association said, “Substitutes are little skeptical or a little hesitant to go into schools.”

Plenty of parents from across the country shared their experiences on social media. One mom tweeted that none of her son's 8th-grade teachers were present on Monday, so he got dispersed to classrooms all over his school. 

Same for a DC Public School mom and her 2nd grader. 

A parent in Prince William echoes their concerns and said moving kids around breaks up their cohort - that’s a huge concern, they said, because parents were assured students would always stay in their class to control the spread of COVID-19. 

THE QUESTION

So, let’s Verify: How are schools impacted by the substitute teacher shortage?

THE SOURCES

WUSA9 checked in with school systems in D.C. and Prince George’s Counties.

THE ANSWER

Here’s what we learned. DCPS is down nearly 200 subs since the pandemic began.

Donna Christy puts it this way, “Prince George’s County Schools need four to five subs a day; there might be 600 in the pool, but they’re not all active,” she said.   Christy said substitutes are not going to school because of their own health, safety, or vaccine concerns. 

She said, in some cases, it boils down to short notice if a teacher wakes up with symptoms and must get a COVID test before returning to school.

Christy added that, at times, educators are forced to teach their class in person and another class virtually at a completely different school.

“At the French immersion schools, the teacher at one French immersion might be teaching their class first period and teaching another class at another school 2nd period. So we’re using the technology to teach across schools,” explained Christy.

So, while teachers and staff are juggling to fill in the gaps, school system administrators are trying to get the numbers up. DCPS said they are recruiting at local colleges and universities and increasing pay for long-term subs.

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