San Jose

Here's How Nationwide Substitute Teacher Shortages Are Impacting Bay Area Schools

The lack of available substitutes forced a South Bay school district superintendent to fill in as one for a class.

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School across the state and nation are scrambling daily to fill classrooms amid a substitute teacher shortage.

One of the reported reasons fueling the severe shortage is many substitutes are older, retired teachers who are afraid of exposure to unvaccinated children.

The shortage forced some schools in Seattle to close on Friday.

In San Jose, Franklin McKinley School District Superintendent Juan Cruz is spending more time making sure there is a credentialed adult in every classroom. It is something that is getting harder and harder to do.

"We have a lot of support staff and administrators filling in to fill some of these vacant substitution positions," Cruz said.

There was a need for 30 substitute teachers Friday in the district, Cruz said, adding there just is not enough people in the substitution pool to fill the vacancies.

In fact, while dealing with a minor internal crisis on Friday, the superintendent also had to fill in a physical education class for one period.

Schools as a last resort may end up combining multiple classes in one room.

"Sometimes we have to do that," Cruz said. "We don't want to do that, especially now with COVID. We want to keep the classes as contained as possible, but sometimes that is our only option we have -- so we split the students up."

Cruz said it is even more challenging because multiple school districts are sometimes competing for the same group of substitutes. Franklin McKinley recently raised the stipend for substitutes to $200 per day and $240 if the substitute commits to consecutive days to help compete for the high demand.

Parents worry about a learning lag caused by the shortage of both teachers and substitutes.

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