Shortage of substitute teachers worsened in NC by COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 and schools

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — For years there’s been a shortage of substitute teachers nationwide, and that is causing issues as more educators are being forced out of the classroom to quarantine.

“Schools can’t operate without our faculty and staff,” said Harnett County Superintendent Aaron Fleming.

As we head deeper into the pandemic, school administrators are being forced to get creative to cover COVID-19 related absences.

“Some of our principals, and assistant principals, have been positive and had to quarantine,” said Fleming.  “We would bring in an assistant principal, or an aspiring principal from another school, that really wants to step up to become a principal and we’re giving them that opportunity.”

While that might work for office absences things can get complicated when classroom teachers are out on quarantine.

“There have been situations where if a teacher has been out, we’ve been able to have a teacher assistant or two teachers assistant step in there,” said Fleming.

CBS 17 asked if students are getting the same level of education that they would having that certified teacher in the classroom.

“We struggle when those teachers are out,” said Fleming.  “We believe that the lesson and the content that they’re getting from their original teacher is keeping them where they need to be for a few days.”

Even if they’re out sick, teachers are expected to provide lesson plans for their fill-in, but Fleming admits there could be issues if an educator is out for weeks at a time.

“You could start to see a reduction in the quality of instruction,” said Fleming.

After speaking with multiple districts CBS 17 has learned that issue is isolated to rural areas since larger districts like Wake, Durham, and Cumberland have virtual academies and students can be shifted to an online classroom.

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