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Schools struggling to find subs to stay open; here's how you can apply to help

Some schools are scrambling to find substitutes when teachers are having to quarantine for being in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. — Students who attend Tippecanoe School Corporation returned to remote learning this week, mostly, administrators say, because there weren't enough teachers in the buildings to teach them, or bus drivers to get them there.

In a message to families Nov. 6, the superintendent sent a message that warned, "Due mainly to close contact quarantining protocols the TSC is increasingly becoming short staffed on school buses and in the classrooms. This has caused late school bus routes and school principals are scrambling daily to find people so that they have enough coverage to properly supervise students."

In that same message, the district said it was doing its best "to recruit enough personnel to help us cover staff shortages." But just days later, students went to remote learning for two weeks.

Wayne Township Schools in Marion County can sympathize.

"It's really difficult right now," said Dr. Shenia Suggs, assistant superintendent for human resources at the MSD Wayne Township. "The number of teachers that may be sick, but more importantly, the number of quarantined staff…and then there is 'normal sick' if there is such a thing, and so…that has made it very challenging."

Suggs said the district normally requires about 100 substitute teachers a day, but this is 2020.

"Right now, we need upwards of 200 subs a day to come in and help," she said. "So it's all hands on deck right now so that we can continue to run school."

Her district has ramped up efforts to recruit more substitute teachers — including yard signs and a video and special message on its website featuring substitute teachers and why they enjoy the job.

"It's extremely important (for subs to be there) to be able to continue in-person learning," Suggs said. 

But in a pandemic, recruiting subs isn't easy.

"You know, they're caring for family members, their own children are learning virtually, so they have to be home with their own kids," she said.

For school administrators in this pandemic, it's yet another a day-to-day lesson of their own — in problem solving, patience, and a lot of perseverance.

How to become a substitute teacher

The process to apply to become a substitute teacher is pretty simple. You need to have a high school diploma or GED and be at least 18 years of age. 

Some districts may have additional requirements, so be sure to check for those before you apply. 

But from there, you just have to apply through the Department of Education's Licensing Verification and Information System. There is a fee of about $15 to get your permit, but it is good for three years.

Click here for more information or to start your application.