The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a problem North Dakota schools have been facing for a while – hiring substitute teachers.
"Often times, substitute teachers are retired teachers, who like to stay involved in education, and make a couple of bucks," said North Dakota United president Nick Archuleta. "They're reinvigorated by hanging around young people. But since many of them are over the age of 60, they're very concerned about substitute teaching, and possibly being infected with the coronavirus."
North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders Executive Director Aimee Copas said even before the pandemic, her organization has been asking the Department of Public Instruction for some temporary relief on the rules governing substitute teachers.
"Currently, the substitute guidelines require a high school diploma, plus additional hours of collegiate credit, equivalent to an associate degree for substitute teachers," Copas said. "We're seeking some relief on whether we could lighten a few of those additional requirements."
Copas said the proposal would still retain a lot of the requirements, including background checks. She said there are wonderful people already working in the educational community, as para-professionals, for example, who don't meet the requirements to be substitutes.
"We have been struggling with a shortage, and now it's compounded greatly," Copas said.