(NewsNation Now) — In-person learning in the pandemic continues to be a challenge for states dealing with vaccine protocols, concerned parents and a thinning school workforce. The pressure is being felt from the teachers to school bus drivers. Oregon is now relaxing the standards for substitute teachers as their numbers shrink — issuing emergency substitute licenses that do not require a bachelor’s degree.
“We have also stated that this license is only for six months, or the remainder of this school year,” said Anthony Rozliez, executive director of Oregon’s Teachers and Standards Practices Commission. “We really do anticipate that it would be a short-term license.”
In December 2019, the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission reported about 8,300 licensed substitute teachers. In 2020, that number dropped to 5,500. This year, a little more than 4,700 substitute teachers remain.
“They may have taken on other types of work,” Rozilez said. “As we’re coming back to in-person instruction, there may be some that are concerned about the health and the risks of coming back into in-person environments,” Rozilez said.
Oregon is not just the only place feeling the effect of the shortage. New York is also dealing with shortages, partly due to a vaccine mandate that went into effect on Oct. 4. It is taking similar measures with replacements.
“Ultimately, obviously every student is going to have an appropriate teacher,” said New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio in a press conference.
In Florida, the board of education voted last week, with the support of Gov. Ron DeSantis, to fine eight school districts that have imposed mask mandates.
Advocates say that the most important factor is to get teachers in front of kids.
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“We shape the future. and that’s important,” Rozilez said. “There’s no more important work than that.”
With this new order, the only requirements in Oregon are for candidates to be 18 years of age and older and undergo a background check.