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North State schools face substitute teacher shortage, but help is on the way

Johnstonville Elementary

As the omicron variant surges across the state, many schools across the North State are desperate for substitute teachers.

"It's on the forefront of every single school leader's brain that I know,"

said Casey Taylor, executive director of Achieve Charter School. "It's like, anytime you're talking to anybody, anywhere who's ever considered being a teacher — who has a degree or would be willing to jump through the hoops to get an emergency credential — we're just like begging them.”

The lack of substitutes has caused some schools to close their doors. Johnstonville Elementary in Lassen County announced on Facebook that it canceled all classes this week due to a lack of available staff.

On Tuesday Governor Gavin Newsom passed an executive order intended to allow for more flexibility in school staffing.

It extends the amount of time substitutes can be assigned to a class and lowers the certification requirements to hire new substitutes, among other changes.

Jim Hanlon, assistant superintendent for human resources at Chico Unified School District, said the extension of substitute contracts is incredibly valuable for improved learning during the pandemic.

"So normally, they can only work 30 days in a classroom. And if a teacher is out longer than that, then we have the succession of substitute teachers, which is not good," Hanlon said. "So they've extended that time to 60 days, we can have the same substitute. If they're rock solid, you don't want to have to move them out."

The order also waives the period retired teachers need to wait before they can be hired back as substitutes.

The order will remain in effect until March 31, 2022.

Alec Stutson grew up in Colorado and graduated from the University of Missouri with degrees in Radio Journalism, 20th/21st Century Literature, and a minor in Film Studies. He is a huge podcast junkie, as well as a movie nerd and musician.