HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KEYE) — With many teachers out sick with the virus, local school districts are calling on substitute teachers to help fill in the void. A severe shortage is straining full-time teachers. Hays Consolidated Independent School District (Hays CISD) in Texas is getting creative to help combat the ongoing problem by asking parents to fill in.
"Both my grandparents were teachers. My grandfather was a college professor. My grandmother was an elementary school teacher," substitute teacher Charisa McBee said.
Teaching runs through McBee's veins. She knows the importance of a good education and became a substitute teacher seven years ago. McBee went to school for teaching and has the credits, but never fully finished her degree.
I really enjoy it. What I love about subbing is that I can be at several different campuses and I can be at different age groups," McBee said.
McBee is one of the many substitute teachers who are desperately needed to keep the school district afloat due to a growing teacher shortage.
"If we got to a point where we didn't have substitutes, we would basically probably have to send everybody home, and they'd have to make up the time," Hays CISD representative Tim Savoy said.
According to Savoy, there would normally be about 500 substitutes to choose from, but the pandemic is making it more difficult to get them into the classroom. Last year, the district was down from about 500 in a healthy substitute pool to 100 substitutes. The number of available substitute teachers continues to fluctuate.
That critical need is what's forcing the school district to ask parents to step in. On Tuesday alone, 292 subs were needed but not all positions were filled. When that happens, staff from other departments fill in to make sure the school day continues. Thirty college hours of credit are typically needed but the district has decided to waive that if a parent is recommended by a principal.
"We're making an extra push for our parents, because those are going to be the folks that the principals are interacting with regularly, and they're able to say, 'hey, yeah, I know this parent, they're great,'" Savoy said.
There have been only three applicants so far. Parents who apply will need to pass a background check. The entire process takes about a week. McBee has been pushing for more people to apply since Sept. She admits subbing is a little different nowadays with the extreme shortages, but says the job is rewarding.
"Our students need bodies in the classroom, they need adults in the classroom, and it's flexible. I mean, if I want to work, I can work. If I don't want to work tomorrow, I don't have to," she said.