School districts across the country are dealing with severe substitute teacher shortages, despite efforts to recruit and pay them more

Despite the pandemic, school districts are struggling to staff their schools.
These shortages have also led to a demand for substitute teachers who are also in short supply.

Some school districts offer incentives or bonuses to keep teachers and subordinates happy.

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Schools across the country are experiencing a decrease in staff numbers due to the departure of teachers last year and the rise in Delta infections. These factors, along with the increased number of full-time teachers who have tested positive for COVID-19 has resulted in a greater demand for substitute teachers.

Districts in Georgia and California, Florida and Idaho are having trouble filling their substitute teacher lists. Some even offer more money and perks for a job that is often low-paid and inconsistent.

Kelly Rhoden, principal of Nevada Union High School, California told CalMatters that there are "quite a few teachers out because they've tested positive or they're symptomatic or they have their children who're in quarantine." "We don't have enough replacements at the end of it all."

CalMatters reported that school administrators are working hard to make sure there is always an adult present in each classroom. Some ask for non-teaching staff to fill these vacant positions. California Commission on Teacher Credentialing saw a decline in the number of substitute permits issued by it from 64,000 in 2018-19, to 47,000 in 2020-21.

Multiple school districts in Georgia are reporting a shortage of substitute teachers. School counselors and media specialists with no teaching experience are covering classes.

Low pay rates caused the closure of substitute pools in Central Massachusetts school districts. This was made worse by the COVID pandemic. According to the Telegram & Gazette, substitutes typically earn less than $100 per teaching day which is not enough to prevent subs from coming in and contracting COVID-19.

Texas schools have gone so far as to cancel online classes. KHOU reported that the Conroe Independent Schools District in Houston had 250 substitutes on Friday. Conroe ISD, one of many districts without COVID-19 mask mandates, is among the most infected. This is causing increased teacher cases and hesitations by substitutes to access these learning spaces.

Former Secretary of Education Arne Dundee stated that the pandemic had had a "devastating impact" on children's education in America. "We now have tens to millions of children behind anywhere from a few months to a full year."

Many school districts in California, Georgia and other states offered per-day increases for short- and long-term substitutes. This was done to retain and recruit qualified candidates. Administrators advertised available positions on digital billboards. They also lowered barriers for potential substitutes by requiring a bachelor's degree and paying a $100 signup fee. Atlanta Public Schools offered substitutes a $500 bonus for their return.

It is not a new problem, and substitute teachers are not an exception.

Many educators have decided to leave the teaching profession this year after reevaluating their options. According to a May survey, 32% of teachers thought about quitting the teaching profession due to the pandemic. The number of special education teachers is also declining due to the lack of support from the US schools system. Insider reported that the US has lost 582,000 jobs in state and local government since February 2020.

School districts are offering new incentives to keep their teachers motivated and to attract new staff in the face of a growing teacher shortage. California and North Carolina offer $2,000 signing bonuses to new teachers. Teachers who plan to remain for another year are also eligible for retention bonuses through schools that use federal stimulus funds. Some US school districts even look abroad for teaching talent.