TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A sub shortage -- a potential problem we reported more than a month ago.
That's when a long time substitute teacher, Delores Devera, expressed her concerns about working during the pandemic.
Safety topped the list.
“If I find teaching with all this (PPE) is too difficult, I'm probably not going to do it,” said Devera, back in March.
Another issue she lack of training in hybrid and remote teaching.
The district had told her then, that “the fill rate was around 70%. So seven out of ten times when there's a request for a sub, they're able to fill it. That means three out of ten times, they cannot fill it. They were up in the 90s before the pandemic.”
Now it's worse.
Only half the subs are working on a regular basis, which is putting a strain on the schools each day.
Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo explained that there's enough in the sub pool, meaning signed up and cleared to work, but many are just turning jobs down.
“The pandemic has taken us to a new level of, 'I just don't want to work at this time', or 'I'll work at a certain school because I have a little bit more confidence in that school's ability to distance, to mask, to do certain things'. So I do think the pandemic has exacerbated an issue that's always been there,” he said.
Now the district is pulling staff from various departments and levels to help fill slots.
Trujillo wants to fix this issue and believes the district needs to design a better substitute system to avoid continued challenges of classroom coverage -- beyond this year.
He said, “They're the only group of employees that we have in all of our ranks that don't have a supervisor, they don't have a set working schedule with set hours,” which means they have complete autonomy on where and when they work.
Trujillo wants to work with the board to find a solution to this sub problem.
“That's an actual internal working conditions issue that we're going to have to address,” he said.
The superintendent says the board will be addressing the dire need for subs in an upcoming study session.