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LPS sees lack of substitute teachers due to COVID

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 7:21 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -Teachers are already known to cover a lot of subjects, doing all they can to educate the next generation. But a substitute shortage at Lincoln Public Schools has many of them covering for the coworkers adding just another item to an already full plate.

The Lincoln Education Association said that a substitute teacher shortage is something that regular LPS teachers have been expressing concern about since the school year began.

LPS said it’s aware and working to get more subs, but reinforcements can’t come soon enough. LPS’ normal substitute teacher pool is around 700. It’s down about 50, but the district said it ideally would like to have 100 more.

“Because of the COVID pandemic we have more absences due to quarantining and those types of things we are seeing that sometimes jobs are not filling as quickly as we would like,” said Vann Price, LPS.

LPS policy for a classroom that doesn’t have a substitute is for another teacher or administrator to cover. For teachers, it’s usually pulling them from a planning period to do so.

“Lincoln High today was short nine teachers, that didn’t have subs to start the day and five more were going to be gone this afternoon because of sports,” said Deb Rasmussen, president of the LEA. “That means without subs that all those teachers are taking their PLAN time and covering classes that they don’t know anything about you might have a French teacher going into a math class.”

The LEA said teachers are already spread thin with COVID protocols and regular curriculum, so covering another classroom can be taxing. It said the situation also has teachers working when they likely shouldn’t be.

“My concern this year is they’re going sick,” said Rasmussen. “I know they’re going in sick I know they’re going in mentally not prepared they’re so overwhelmed and they don’t want to be gone and have your co-workers take over for you”

LEA said COVID is also causing those substitutes to be pickier when it comes to what building or grade levels they will go into this school year.

“There are so retired teachers that are not going to put themselves in a building where kids are not vaccinated, even if they have masks so we’ve had that issue,” said Rasmussen. “COVID’s been a big thing.”

LPS said to try and make up for those numbers, it’s trying recruitment efforts in both their retired teacher pool that’s not already subbing and trying to find student teachers from local colleges.

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