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Substitute Teacher Shortage in Georgia


Georgia students and teachers have returned to school as the pandemic continues to run its course throughout the United States. It seems as if almost every school has different approaches to quarantining, mask mandates and everything in between. Not only have we seen the most absences from students and teachers, but we are also seeing a decrease in substitute teachers. This in itself is hurting schools tremendously.

After speaking to some teachers from different schools around Georgia they all seem to agree why the number of substitute teachers is decreasing, “I think a lot of subs are afraid of Covid and are fearful that students at an elementary level have not been vaccinated and are not mandated to wear a mask,” said one fifth grade teacher. 

Most of these subs are nervous to get back into schools, especially elementary, because younger kids are not being vaccinated and some schools are not enforcing masks. Another common theme teachers seemed to talk about was the frustration they are dealing with. They are frustrated because more times than not teachers can not find a sub. If a teacher has to be out because they are sick but there are no subs to take over then the school is left to figure it out amongst themselves, meaning teachers have to take over more responsibility. 

Paraprofessionals have had to step up and take over classes. One teacher from Rome, Georgia said their school district is giving a $1000 stipend to all teachers to try and compensate for the extra work they have been doing. They have also had extra days off here and there just for planning because the planning blocks they are supposed to have during the school days are getting taken away because they are having to fill in for other teachers. 

“It is hard when you don’t have a planning period because then you get behind with your own classes’ schedule. The days off for planning have been nice but also necessary,” said a special education teacher. 

Not only is the substitute teacher shortage taking a toll on the teachers, but the students as well. Some of these kids are already behind because of COVID-19 affecting their last two years of school. When their teacher is out and they do not have a consistent substitute, it leads to falling behind. When kids are having to get thrown into or combined with other classes it affects the way they are learning.

It is a distraction when that many kids are in one class and not every teacher knows exactly how to teach each student. “It has been really hard for the students that need special attention when we do not have all of our special ed. teachers here or when they have to step into a regular classroom. Now those students that need the extra help aren’t getting it,” said the special education teacher. 

Each school and district is different when it comes to hiring substitutes. Some schools only allow certain individuals to do it based on their education, while it seems other schools now are letting anyone come because of the shortage. University of North Georgia student Shelby Pacholke has recently stepped into the substitution teacher world because of the high demand. 

“I have a love for children so when I saw the high demand for substitute teachers I jumped on the opportunity,” said Pacholke. 

One former Gainesville City Schools substitute teacher talked about how the pay is still the same as it was almost 20 years ago, as well as how substitutes normally have something to do while other teachers have a planning period. The teachers spoken to also had the idea of offering different incentives for substitutes such as higher pay or the ability to sub in different districts.

“I’m not sure what the best solution is, but there needs to be one,” said one teacher.

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Substitute Teacher Shortage in Georgia