VAN WERT — To attract more substitute teachers, Lincolnview schools and other Ohio school districts are considering candidates who obtain an emergency substitute teacher’s license created by the Ohio General Assembly for the 2020-2021 school year.
The emergency licenses temporarily waive a requirement that substitute teachers have a bachelor’s degree, instead allowing college students and others who have graduated high school or earned a GED-equivalent diploma to apply for a temporary license so long as they can pass a background check.
“A lot of our substitute teachers are people who have an education degree and are retired,” said Jeff Snyder, superintendent of Lincolnview schools.
Because many of those substitute teachers are older and more susceptible to developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, Snyder said many stopped working in the schools last fall as a safety precaution.
The district has since tried to recruit new candidates and has even turned to principals and Snyder himself to fill in so instruction wouldn’t be interrupted. Now, Lincolnview schools have another option to help keep the classrooms open for the remainder of the school year.
Jan Smith, an administrative assistant to the superintendent of the Western Buckeye Educational Service Center responsible for administering emergency substitute teacher’s licenses in Van Wert and surrounding counties, said she’s already seen a lot of interest among college students, particularly those who work as part-time instructional aides.
But each school district can decide whether they want to hire substitutes with an emergency license or stick with candidates who have already earned their bachelor’s degree, Smith said.
The substitute teacher shortage has forced some schools into remote-learning days, while others, like Lincolnview, have relied on administrators and other teachers to cover for their colleagues.
And with so many teachers and K-12 employees now taking their COVID-19 vaccines, many school districts are planning to administer the second shots on a Friday or Saturday to avoid mass call offs, giving staff the weekend to recover from any possible side effects or fatigue, which tend to be stronger after the second dose than the first.