Utah schools expect to see rise in substitute teacher requests as COVID cases rise

Jan 4, 2022, 2:07 PM | Updated: 2:12 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah students are returning to the classroom with more COVID-19 safety protocols – and in many cases, substitute teachers.

KSL spoke with officials in the Canyons and Granite school districts who said they’re not seeing a staffing shortage just yet, but they’re keeping a close eye on the numbers so they can keep students and teachers in the building.

“Yesterday, we had about 145 requests for substitutes across the district, which is a little bit fewer than what we typically see,” said Jeff Haney with the Canyons School District. He said if COVID-19 cases rise, that number could go up in the coming weeks.

“And we’ve tried to be prepared for that,” Haney said.

Canyons has built up an army of 530 substitutes from the community, who can step in when teachers are out.

They’ve taken a similar approach in the Granite School District — luring substitutes by offering incentives on top of regular pay.

“After a substitute works so many days they can get a $50 bonus and then a $150 bonus,” said Ben Horsley, Granite School District spokesperson. “In Salt Lake County, with a handful of districts in such close proximity, we’re all competing for the same pull of substitutes.”

At Canyons, substitutes can get a bonus of up to $175 on top of their daily fee of $97-$135. Haney says they could be making about $500 a week plus incentives.

But Haney said if teacher absences tick up, it’ll be challenging for that pool of substitutes to cover the shortages.

Teachers may have to double up – doing their jobs plus run another classroom.

“So at this point, we are asking those who have substituted it for us in the past to please consider and to be excepting of those jobs when you get the phone call.”

Horsley said 95% of their staff in the Granite School District have been vaccinated and received the booster, so they’re hopeful that will minimize the impact of staff getting sick and missing work.

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Utah schools expect to see rise in substitute teacher requests as COVID cases rise