‘We are in a crisis’: Colorado schools search for substitute teachers

Back To School

DENVER (KDVR) — It’s back to the drawing board for the majority of Colorado schools that struggle to keep teachers in the classrooms with mandatory quarantine requirements from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The Colorado Education Association calling the start of school like a jig-saw puzzle as school administrators attempt to fill the gaps when a teacher is exposed and must teach remotely.

“You have students that see more than one teacher so that becomes a domino effect as far as the number of people effected,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, president of the Colorado Education Association. “The problem is, many teachers teach more than one class, so they if they have students that are not impacted by the quarantine, it’s those students that would need a substitute teacher in order to continue their in person learning. We just don’t have the staff bodies to make it work in certain cases.

Many school districts, including Jefferson County, have increased their advertising efforts to recruit guest or substitute teachers. Jeffco is also offering incentives to current staff members to guest teach by reimbursing them for the cost of getting a license, however the district said Monday it’s thankful to see former teachers and other administrators, such as an assistant principal, step up to the plate and help out where needed.

“Districts are getting creative,” said Baca-Oehlert. “I’ve even seen districts asking parents if they want to consider getting a substitute license to help them fill the gap.”

The Colorado Department of Education is now offering a new 2020-2021 teaching substitute authorization which requires candidates to hold only a minimum of a high school diploma or its equivalent. According to the CDE website, candidates do not need a verification form, which makes it ideal for college students and graduates, people between jobs or considering changing careers, and anyone interested in serving their communities and its students. Background checks are required, but experience in teaching is not.

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