Scrambling For Substitute Teachers During Covid-19

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Four North Elementary teachers at a time, in the Warsaw R-IX School District, were either quarantined or sick in the months of October through the first week of December and there were not enough certified substitute teachers to take their place in the classrooms. 
“Title I teachers and para professionals, among other staff, have stepped up to cover classrooms for teachers who are out,” said Warsaw Superintendent Shawn Poyser. “Some of our staff have even taken over bus routes for drivers who are out. The next couple of weeks will be tight, but some of our regular subs are coming back.”
Dr. Poyser said that substitute teachers have concerns other than COVID-19 too, or their spouses do. And, he said that people get sick, go to funerals and take maternity leave or have surgery during a normal school year.
“Our big concern is in-school instruction,” said Dr. Poyser. “Our schools are about as safe a place as can be.  All across the state COVID-19 is being spread by activities outside of school.”
Dr. Poyser provided a chart of school absences for teachers and students from August through the first week of December. There were 15 student absences in August, jumping to 99 in September. There were 23 students out in October, 84 in November and 8 during the first week of December. Only 1 staff member was out sick in August, 18 in September, and 4 during each month of October, November and December. The total students out were 229, and total staff out was 31 so far this school year.
Cole Camp’s School District R-I has faired pretty well lately, according to a representative of the Superintendent’s office. She said that some of the staff had been out, but substitutes were available. As of Friday, December 4, the district had experienced 22 positives of COVID-19, and 32 quarantines, since August, out of a staff of 100. The bottom of the Cole Camp School website posted that as of 11/30/20 there were a total of 28 total positive student cases and 287 student quarantines since August.
Lincoln’s School Superintendent, Kevin Smith, said that as far as COVID-19, there is a 93 percent student attendance at this time. He said that teachers were doing pretty good, but if more than eight teachers are out there will not be enough subs to cover for them. Other teachers are covering for those who are out when there is a shortage of subs. They usually take over another teacher’s class by stepping in during their conference periods.
Superintendent Smith said that having the kids physically present in school is best. He said that virtual learning is hard on kids, families and staff.