New wave of COVID impacting teachers and school staff
How substitute teaching is working for Nebraska schools
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN)- Lincoln Public Schools reported 208 staff having to stay home. In fact, 101 staff tested positive since Sunday. In addition to that, there continues to be a substitute teacher shortage. It’s serious enough, they were unable to schedule an interview with us today because the people who would do the interview were actually in the classroom substitute teaching. To make up for the shortage, it’s all hands on deck.
“For elementary schools, they are splitting kids up and putting so many of them in classes. Specialists are not necessarily doing their rotations but are covering classes. High schools, middle schools, they take their planned periods and then they cover. We had a list and if it was your planned period we rotated through and we always did that, we just do it a lot more now,” said Deb Rasmussen President of the Lincoln Education Association.
In an effort to combat the substitute teacher shortage, a significant pay raise went into effect in November.
“Through some advocacy from the union, we got the district to raise the pay from $37 an hour to $50 an hour for people who are subbing,” said Rasmussen.
Before COVID, a high percentage of substitute teachers were actually retired teachers, but the virus has made it more difficult.
“Let’s face it. If your a retired teacher and you’re watching your health, you might not want to go in,” said Rasmussen.
Their health isn’t the only obstacle.
“What happened during COVID is this big swing to technology that they weren’t there for and it changes all the time with different ways that we are delivering our instruction, so they have to do training too for that, so for some people, it’s not as comfortable when you’ve been retired for a couple of years and you’re coming back in the classroom,” said Rasmussen.
Those studying to become a teacher are getting the chance to step in and help.
“Student teachers, they are subbing too. They are taking over a classroom freeing up the supervising teacher to go to another classroom,” said Rasmussen.