COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Schools across Central Ohio are scrambling to find substitutes as more teachers are forced to quarantine.
And while learning models vary from full in-person, hybrid and full remote learning, one thing is consistent — teacher shortages.
Bexley City Schools switched from hybrid to full remote learning this past week. Interim Superintendent Dr. Dan Good says the district’s staff absence rate is nearly 70 percent higher compared to this time last year.
“We no longer had capacity with our faculty and staff. We had many faculty and staff who were at home,” Dr. Good said. “And we were having difficulty actually filling all of our vacancies with qualified substitutes.”
A problem Olentangy Local Schools is also experiencing.
“Our absent rate is consistent with years past as far as staff absences,” said Todd Meyer, chief operating officer at Olentangy Local Schools. “The issue is our sub pool is down 30 percent compared to this time last year.”
Meyer says that’s one of the reasons that on Thursday night, the Olentangy Board of Education approved a pay increase for subs, a measure Pickerington Local Schools also took last month.
“We’re hoping that that will entice or provide some additional incentives for substitutes to come to Olentangy,” Meyer saud.
But pay incentives don’t matter to all subs.
“Our best subs were often retired teachers who are very reluctant to come in, understandably in these conditions,” said Dr. John Marschhausen, superintendent at Hilliard City Schools.
The Educational Service Center (ESC) of Central Ohio works with 29 school districts in the area to employ substitutes. ESC Substitute Consortium Coordinator Doug Behnke says all subs just want a safe environment.
“Substitutes want to know that they’re going to be safe and that they’re in a situation where they’re not going to either contribute to the problem or be on the receiving end of it,” Behnke said.
Behnke says about 70 percent of their 2,200 active subs are willing to teach this year. When schools can’t find a sub, they must find someone who has a bachelor’s degree in any field and a general substitute license from the Ohio Department of Education.
Shortages have even gotten to the point where full-time teachers have to fill in during their breaks.