(KTVX) — In another sign of just how much COVID-19 and the omicron variant are disrupting normal life, schools in several districts across the United States are now turning to parents to fill substitute teaching jobs.
In Utah, beleaguered administrators are doing what they can to help the faculty.
Yandary Chatwin, a spokeswoman for the Salt Lake City School District, said, “Anyone who’s willing and able to substitute, we absolutely welcome you to apply for that.”
Chatwin explained that many of those who would normally be willing to help out are reluctant at this time because of the spread of the omicron variant.
She also mentioned that the school districts have lifted certain restrictions, such as the number of hours substitutes must work, in order to attract more people interested in helping out.
Chatwin said background check standards are unchanged, however, and that there will be no exceptions made in that regard.
Ben Horsely, a spokesman for Granite School District, said, “We have had around 2,200 sub requests since Jan. 3. It is a major issue and asking parents to help out is something we have (done) and continue to do.”
Additionally, Sandra Riesgraf, spokeswoman for Jordan School District, said, “We extended our incentive pay program that offers up to $500 for subs who work a certain number of days. We also asked each school to produce an emergency substitute teacher list, which is mostly made up of parents.”
In Texas, one district is using email and social media to recruit parents to fill substitute roles after the virus depleted the normal staffing pool. Hays Consolidated Independent School District in Kyle, Texas said it started the year with 100 substitutes, far fewer than the normal 500.
A Jan. 6 Facebook post reads:
“Attention Parents: Now hiring certified and eligible non-certified Guest Teachers! Rewarding work in education that fits YOUR schedule!”
The shortage of employees, a challenge schools across the country are struggling with amid an explosion of COVID-19 cases, also extends to the district’s bus drivers. On Tuesday, Hays CISD warned parents that a driver shortage might cause delays throughout the week.
In Louisiana’s Caddo Parish, school administrators are making a direct plea to parents.
“Right now, it’s a season where we are asking parents to help because we don’t want to close down schools,” said Leisa Woolfolk, the district’s chief human resources officer. “We want our students to have that day-to-day experience in the classrooms. Just takes commitment and a willing spirit. Someone that likes children, likes working around children.”
The district tallied 147 new COVID-19 cases among the faculty and staff of Caddo Parish schools, according to KTAL/KMSS, almost double the previous week’s number. The case count among students nearly tripled, to 505.
Now, the district is hoping parents pitch in to work as substitute teachers, a job that pays $10 an hour.
In New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Wednesday that she was encouraging state workers and National Guard members to help fill the vacant teaching roles.
“Parents and educators are going through a constant state of whiplash,” Grisham said. “And the entire country is facing incredible staffing shortages. We don’t want to be in a situation where schools aren’t engaged fully in in-person learning.”