Students switch to remote learning due to substitute teacher shortage

A substitute teacher shortage for Green Local Elementary School results in students switching to remote learning for Thursday and Friday.
Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 7:18 PM EDT
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FRANKLIN FURNACE, Ohio (WSAZ) - In the McCleese household, Amanda McCleese, who is the mother of daughter Kathryn, is taking over the role of teacher for a couple of days.

“What ran through my mind is at least I get to hug my besties before I go,” Kathryn said.

Kathryn is a third-grader at Green Local Elementary School in Scioto County, Ohio.

“Yesterday, when I made the call to go remote, we were down four teachers without substitutes. Then, as things unfolded that number increased to seven -- all at the elementary,” Jodi Armstrong, who is the superintendent at Green Local Schools, said.

WSAZ’s Marlee Pinchok asked Armstrong how many students are impacted by this shortage.

“Well, it’s one third of our elementary teaching staff essentially. We’re looking at about 250 to 300 students in the elementary school that are impacted,” Armstrong said.

She says the decision to go remote is a tough one to make. It impacts everyone -- staff, students, as well as family members. However, she says with several teachers out sick and no substitute teachers available to take their spots -- the shortage leaves no choice but to switch to remote learning for Thursday and Friday.

“It is kind of worrisome that school just started and they’re already having this issue,” Amanda McCleese said.

As teacher shortages impact school districts across the country, Pinchok asked Armstrong what action the Green Local School District is taking to help solve this issue.

“I have put out the basic requirements for what it takes to be a substitute teacher in the Green Local School District -- and currently it is that you have to have a bachelor’s degree in any subject and then pass, of course, federal and state background checks,” Armstrong said. “Now the state of Ohio has relaxed some of those requirements a little bit as far as substitute teachers. We as a district have not gone that route yet. We do like having those higher expectations for who we put in a classroom, but it is something we will consider should these kinds of events keep happening.”

Armstrong also says in Scioto County, for example, the Green Local School District runs into the obstacle of requesting from the same pool of subs as several other districts in the county. This can limit the chances of successfully being able to get a substitute teacher for that day.

“Putting a plea out there to anyone interested in giving back who has those qualifications and would like to be a part of the solution,” Armstrong said.

The superintendent said she hopes the long weekend will allow everyone to get back on their feet again and return to in-person learning by next week.