Substitute shortage

The North Platte Public School District is in need for substitute teachers during the pandemic.

Priscila Mondragõn, Managing Editor

Local substitute Kim Leeper assist a student on her essay. (Priscila Mondragon)

North Platte High School is teaching in person, but many of its instructors are not. The coronavirus has increased the demand for an already limited number of substitute teachers.

Earlier this month, the district sent out a press release stating “Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, North Platte Public Schools (NPPSD) is in need of additional substitute teachers for the 2020 – 2021 school year.”  

Human Resources Director Kevin Mills said on average there are anywhere from 8-42 substitutes covering for absent NPPSD teachers.  However, they have needed as many as over 110 this fall. “There is never enough in any district, especially this year, for substitutes,” he said. 

There are two types of substitute teachers: regular and local. A regular sub is a credentialed teacher. A local substitute is someone who has 60 college credits, at least one of them is in education, has completed a human relations class, and can sub in a district for 90 days. 

Now, due to the pandemic, the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) has dropped most of those requirements, including the per district time limit. “NDE released a statement relaxing substitute teacher requirements to allow schools to fill the substitute teacher shortages,” said Communications Director Tina Smith.

Before the pandemic, subs were used to fill a teacher’s position for the whole day or multiple days in a row. Now that individuals have to quarantine for 10-14 days, the circumstances have changed. At NPHS, for example, several high school teachers may cover a class throughout the day. If a teacher is quarantined, multiple substitutes, both current teachers, regular substitutes or local subs, will fill in until they return. “Subs being allowed more days will help [teachers] not have to cover classes as much,” said local substitute Kim Leeper.

Leeper used to only be allowed to work a maximum of 90 days for North Platte Public Schools. The virus has changed that “There is a lot more need because teachers are either quarantined or tested positive, and so now they have given us unlimited days,” she said.

Substitute teachers are often usually made up of retired and college qualified teachers. Now they contain local college students and already paid teachers in the buildings.

Smith said the district pays all substitutes $130 per day or more for longer term commitments.

Anyone wanting to become a local substitute needs to contact Human Resources Administrative Assistant Carol Halley at the McKinley Education Center. After that, an applicant pays NDE $55 for an application fee and sends a letter of request from the superintendent or designee.