Substitute teacher shortage hitting local schools hard

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PRINCETON, WV (WVNS) — A nationwide substitute teacher shortage is causing headaches for teachers and administrators.

The lack of substitute teachers available is particularly bad in Mercer County, where it’s reached the point that schools are looking for substitutes for more than the teachers. 

“Just like all across the country, we have a big substitute teacher shortage,” said Mercer County Board of Education Data and Information Specialist Amy Harrison. “It’s not just substitute teachers, it’s substitute custodians, bus drivers, cooks, aides, secretaries.

When teachers or school workers have to stay home, the lack of substitutes means their co-workers must sacrifice their own responsibilities to help cover for them.

“What schools have been doing,” explained Harrison. “Is combining classes, splitting up the classes, and putting a few in other classrooms. Or teachers will give up their planning periods, to go and cover a class during that time that they’re on their planning period.”

However, that strategy can only last so long. Harrison told 59 news that Mercer County’s schools are desperate for people to apply to the open positions. 

“They can go to our website or they can contact our office and speak with our HR department,” said Harrison. “Anyone that has an associate’s degree or above, can substitute in the Mercer County schools. And we also are still taking applications for substitute bus drivers, custodians, all of our service personnel positions.”

Harrison also said on an average day, every school needs at least one substitute. So, for teachers and school workers who are already stretched thin, the lack of people ready to fill in is only making their jobs even more stressful.

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