National substitute teacher shortage continues to pose trouble for schools post-COVID

Are substitute teacher shortages negatively impacting H-F?


substitute teacher infographic, canva

The national substitute teacher shortage has created a large challenge for schools everywhere.

It was only seven months ago when New Mexico schools hired the national guard to step into the teaching role and Oklahoma recruited police officers. While the situation in Illinois has never been nearly this bad – we are still facing a large problem. 

A recent survey conducted by the Illinois Association of Regional School Superintendents found that 93% of districts in Illinois are reporting a scarcity of substitutes. 

Much of this can be attributed to COVID-19. Many substitute teachers are older, retired teachers who may not wish to be in a large classroom environment that risks their health. 

But how affected is H-F by all of this? Director of Human Resources Jodi Bryant stated, “Our teacher attendance is actually very good and has been throughout the pandemic – even considering the quarantine and isolation period of staff and/or their children.”

However, even before the pandemic, H-F had been actively searching for substitutes.

Prior to COVID there were actually several more substitutes needed on a daily basis as staff members were participating in many off-campus professional development opportunities as well as normal field trips that require subs,” said Bryant.

Bobbi Ferree, the sub-coordinator, expressed that “things are getting better, it’s moving a little in the upward direction [at H-F].” 

While H-F is actively improving on this issue, many other areas in the state are still struggling immensely. According to ABC7, District U-46 (Elgin), the second largest in the state, reported 100 teacher vacancies in mid-August. 

Governor JB Pritzker has responded with a series of bills that make it easier for substitutes to get hired by school districts and stay working. These include decreasing the price of a teacher’s license renewal from $500 to $50, allowing more days a substitute can work in a row, removing the requirement of a bachelor’s degree (the new requirement being 90 credit hours), and lowering the age of 18 to 17. 

It’s too recent whether or not to say if these bills have effectively increased the number of substitute teachers. However, looking at the situation with regards to H-F, it seems the school is headed in a positive direction.