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Green Country schools struggle with substitute teacher shortage amid pandemic

Posted at 8:13 PM, Nov 11, 2020

TULSA, Okla. — While many Green Country school districts are struggling to keep students in in-person learning, they're also having a hard time finding someone to teach those classes.

Districts across the region are calling on a need for substitute teachers.

Being short on substitutes isn’t a new problem for school districts, but it's one that’s been intensified due to COVID-19.

“It is impacting our schools," said Rob Miller, superintendent of Bixby Public Schools. "And there are no if's, and's or but's about it.”

At Bixby Public Schools, 25 percent of sub openings aren’t getting filled. Leaving as many as 10 to 20 positions open.

“If those are concentrated at one particular site, like high school, then it really poses an issue," Miller said.

The district hired a full-time sub for each building at the beginning of the school year. But, even with that extra help, teachers and staff are being stretched thin.

Bixby isn’t alone with its shortage.

Sand Springs Public Schools said, on average, it needs one to two subs at each building every day.

“Some of our certified teachers will sub during those class times," said Sherry Durkee, superintendent of Sand Springs Public Schools. "Occasionally, we’re using some of our support staff to fill a classroom for coverage.”

At Tulsa Public Schools, Superintendent Deborah Gist said they only have a quarter of their subs enrolled this year.

Union Public Schools moved several schools and its high school to distance learning, partly because of a lack of subs.

Many districts are now increasing pay for substitutes.

Safety of students, teachers, staff and subs is a top priority for districts as they continue to navigate the pandemic.

“This year it is a part that we’ve added where we talk about those added measures for health and for keeping our students safe and about masks and those types of things," said Kristin Arnold, assistant superintendent at Sand Springs Public Schools.

You can apply to be a sub on a school district’s website. Here are links to several different districts:

Bixby Public Schools

Broken Arrow Public Schools

Jenks Public Schools

Sand Springs Public Schools

Tulsa Public Schools

Union Public Schools

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