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Schools prepare for potential substitute shortage, teacher retires over coronavirus concerns

sub shortage
Posted at 4:45 PM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-12 07:33:29-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — As the school year approaches, News 5 continues to focus on how local districts are anticipating a potential shortage of teachers.

At 70-years-old Rebecca Lynn Davis says she wasn't planning on retiring from substitute teaching, but with her son having had two open-heart surgeries and her age, she knew it was time.

"I substituted for ten years, but this was just too much. Too much to ask of a teacher," said Davis. "I'm worried about my own health and I think one child is not worth the risk of losing."

Davis says she supports in-person learning for younger children because of the developmental benefits but for older children, online-learning would be a better option.

"Middle school children, it's kind of difficult. They're a different group of children that sometimes don't go by the rules and high school students also," said Davis.

She's been tracking COVID-19 numbers since March and says it'll be tough for schools to track asymptomatic cases.

"They have found we have a number of children that have tested for COVID-19. With all of the side effects of COVID-19 and other diseases. With the rashes and how hard it is and how long it takes them, I just don't know how they can reopen schools and keep them open," said Davis.

Kirk Vsetecka with Widefield School District 3 says there has been apprehension among staff and substitutes with returning to school. The district has been able to reassure their staff by keeping an open line of communication, but they've still seen a drop in their candidate pool. He says there has always been a shortage, but the pandemic has exhaberrated the problem.

"We won't need half as many subs as we normally would, but that could change quickly in September," said Vsetecka. "With our timeline right now, it buys us a little bit of time."

As it stands now, with in-person and remote learning to start, they don't believe they are at risk of not having enough substitutes. To help, they'll be utilizing teachers already within the school.

"We do feel very comfortable with our internal approach and allowing folks to help one another out," said Vsetecka.

He says there isn't a dire need of substitutes right now so they won't be utilizing unlicensed personnel or paraprofessionals. The district currently has enough teachers and as the school year progresses, they'll evaluate the data and gauge the need.

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