COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Columbus City School District is addressing a major shortage. It’s an issue that’s been highlighted because of the pandemic.

We’re talking about substitute teachers. For a school system this large, there should be more than double the staff that’s currently available right now.

“We should have a pool of 1,000 substitute teachers for the amount of students we have in our district and the amount of teachers,” said Mike De Fabbo who is with Human Resources with CCS.

Right now, the district has 474 active subs. This data was shared in Tuesday’s school board meeting.

Parent Sarah Bowman says this is information she’s been asking for.

“There have been parents — not that we knew one hundred percent for sure that this was absolutely going to be an issue but — we had concerns and we suspected it was the kind of thing that could be a pretty significant issue,” she said.

CCS moved to blended learning earlier this month. Since then, 4 schools and part of one program have switched back to remote learning because of staffing issues.

Those schools are :

  • Ohio Avenue Elementary
  • Innis Elementary
  • Indianola Informal
  • Easthaven Elementary
  • Columbus Africentric EC Grades 4 and 5

“Just like any organization when we’re not, when our teachers are sick or they’re out then somebody has to fill the gap and we don’t have those gaps to do that right now,” said John Coneglio, the President of the Columbus Education Association. He says this shortage doesn’t surprise him.

CCS leaders say they didn’t foresee subs being an issue. A survey went out them and 70 percent agreed to come back.

But now most aren’t showing up.

“When we were thinking about having 407 subs ready to go in and to later find out some subs say you know what I’m not sure i’d rather stay in a virtual space,” said Superintendent Dr. Talisa Dixon.

Bowman, prefers virtual learning too. She doesn’t want to see cohorts mixing to together to fill any staff gaps. She says it’s important to limit interactions.

“If assigned building subs are in greater numbers can help prevent that kind of the thing from happening then certainly it’s helpful,” she said.

107 of those substitutes are assigned a specific building 5 days a week. Coneglio says CCS isn’t the only school with this issue.

“It was a challenge before and now it’s just the pandemic just shows how broken the staffing is and let’s be fair there’s a sub shortage everywhere it’s not indicative of Columbus Ohio it’s everywhere.”

De Fabbo told the board Tuesday evening that this is something that has been happening for awhile.

“We had on a good year we have 400 plus subs here and the full rate has declined year over year from 70 to 60 percent over the last three years, that is real and that was happening pre-pandemic.”

The district is working on recruitment when it comes to the sub shortage. They’ve also added substitute teachers to their vaccination plan. Previously, they were not on the list.