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State employees soon to substitute teach in Oklahoma classrooms

Posted at 7:38 PM, Jan 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-20 08:16:52-05

TULSA, Okla. — State employees could be stepping into Oklahoma classrooms as early as Thursday to help substitute as schools continue dealing with the omicron surge.

An executive order signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt took effect Wednesday to allow state workers to volunteer substitute teachers to help with the state’s teacher shortage.

2 News Oklahoma has learned that more than 100 people have already signed up to help.

“What it does is it allows a state employee to retain their compensation and their job and then still go substitute teach in a school,” secretary of education, Ryan Walters said.

After Gov. Stitt announced the order, a memo went out to thousands of state employees with a link where they can apply to help in schools.

“They sign up through that portal and we’re working on aligning them to the districts,” Sec. Walters said.

The state is reaching out to districts and collecting onboarding material for volunteers. Each district will also conduct a background check before volunteers enter the classroom.

Union Public Schools superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler says the district will “graciously accept” these volunteers but he also points out they already have a system set up for recruiting volunteers.

In a statement sent to 2 News, it reads, “We’ve streamlined our onboarding process to enable us to have a volunteer in the classroom within one day of signing up… We will use the raptor program, a program we already have in place, so we can ensure the safety of our children.”

Some school districts have expressed concern about the program and many said they already have a process for recruiting, training, and assigning quality substitutes.

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