Salt Lake City Schools Facing Substitute Teacher Shortage

Feb 23, 2021, 6:33 PM | Updated: 7:39 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – After spending most of their school year online, Salt Lake City School District reopened classrooms for in-person learning two weeks ago. And now, the district has a substitute teacher problem.

“We have about 100 (substitute teachers), and that’s about half of what we usually do,” said Yandary Chatwin, SLCSD spokesperson.

It’s such a problem at East High School that a handful of classes didn’t have any teachers and the school had to move students into the auditorium for supervised learning — similar to a study hall.

The move infuriated parents like Melissa Hardy when she found out.

“It’s so disappointing and unacceptable,” she said.

Hardy added that parents are at their wits end with the school district after a year filled with tumultuous relations between board members, teachers and students.

She said it’s time for the district to figure out how to attract more substitutes and make sure their children are getting quality education in case their teachers need time off.

“To be honest with you, the sub shortage was a problem before the pandemic and it has been exacerbated by COVID-19,” Chatwin said.

She added teachers have the right to call out sick or take time off. The safety protocols around COVID-19, like quarantining, have made the problem worse. The district has increased pay for substitute teachers, but not many people have submitted applications.

Despite the substitute teacher debacle, Chatwin said the return to the classroom has been mostly successful and they have had a very low count of COVID-19 cases.

The district is exploring the idea of opening for in-person learning possibly five days a week, but the Salt Lake City Board of Education would need to approve this decision.

No proposals have been formally introduced.

If you would like to help out the school district by becoming a substitute teacher, click here.

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Salt Lake City Schools Facing Substitute Teacher Shortage