MADISON COUNTY - For all schools, this year has been one of many challenges. From acquiring and installing the COVID related equipment and supplies to navigating whether to have students in person, remote or hybrid, every day is filled with one dilemma after another. While some of those challenges have multiple solutions, there are others that are much more difficult to solve. One such challenge is recruiting substitute teachers.

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For the last five years, most school districts throughout Madison County have struggled to find qualified individuals to place in classrooms when teachers are in training or ill. COVID has only compounded this problem. Many of the current substitutes are retired teachers who have continued to help in schools on a part time basis. Because age or a health condition puts them at a higher risk for COVID, some have decided the risk was too great to continue substitute teaching which has put schools in a difficult position. To keep schools open there must be personnel in place to cover the classrooms when teachers are out.

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When Erica Harris learned that a shortage of substitute teachers was the reason her child’s school was moving to remote teaching, she immediately offered to help. Ms. Harris was able to move her regular working hours around so she would be free during school hours and able to substitute when needed. “So many people are either out of work right now or have flexibility within their schedule and could help districts by substitute teaching” Ms. Harris explained. “Most people don’t even know that subbing is a possibility or that the need is so great.”

One positive outcome of the substitute teacher shortage, is the state of Illinois has recently modified the normal requirements for substitute teaching licenses. Typically, in order to get a substitute teaching license, a person must have a Bachelor’s Degree, a background check, pay the $50 application fee and the $50 registration fee. With the newest changes an individual can apply for a temporary substitute teachers license with an Associate’s Degree (or 60 hours from an accredited school), a background check and a $25 application fee. While a regular license is good for 5 years, the temporary license is only good until June of 2023.

Rob Werden, Regional Superintendent of Schools for Madison County stated, “I understand why many of the retired teachers who have substitute taught in the past are unable to do so now. However, there are many people out there who are laid off or could use the extra income and are healthy and able to help. The cool thing about subbing is that you can pick which days you want to or are able to work and you can do something different every day. It’s also a great opportunity for college students who are planning on going into education or who only have classes on certain days.” He went on to add, “Most districts pay substitute teachers around $100 per day, which isn’t too bad. With schools needing substitute teachers so desperately, we thought the Regional Office of Education could help by getting the word out.”

For more information about how to get a substitute teaching license contact the Madison County Regional Office of Education at 618-296-4530 or visit their web site at www.roe41.org. Additional information is also available at www.isbe.net/Documents/how-become-sub-teacher.pdf.

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