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Oregon Changes Supply Teacher Licensing Rules To Address ‘Extraordinary Shortage’

The temporary rule, which is due to expire on March 31, allows substitute teacher candidates without a bachelor’s degree to be sponsored by a school district, which would also provide them with enhanced administrative support and supervision, according to a joint statement from Dr Anthony Rosilez. , the executive director of the commission, and Erika Bare, the president of the commission.

The license would only allow individuals to work for the district that sponsored them and would only be valid for the remainder of the school year, or six months, whichever comes later.

“This rule maintains the responsibility of districts to ensure that adults caring for students in the classroom have the skills and arrangements to be a temporary substitute teacher who can ensure student safety and learning,” Rosilez and Bare said in their statement.

The state has seen a massive drop in the number of substitute teachers in less than two years: As of December 2019, there were 8,290 certified substitute teachers in Oregon. As of September 18, 2021, the number had been almost halved, falling to 4,738 authorized replacements. Without more teachers, lessons will be “combined at unacceptable levels or not offered at all, inflicting irreparable damage to schoolchildren,” said the provisional administrative order.

“While the data we have at this point is mostly anecdotal, the COVID pandemic has been one of the main drivers of the supply reduction,” Rosilez and Bare said.

Elizabeth Thiel, president of the Portland Association of Teachers, which also represents substitute educators, said Oregon is experiencing a “staff crisis” exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic for several reasons.

Some long-time substitute teachers, with little work for them last year due to distance education, have moved into different fields and found other jobs.

“At the same time, there was a huge need to hire teachers. Many teachers resigned or left the profession last year, so there were a lot of openings and many of our substitute educators were hired for. full-time jobs and therefore the pool left to us by replacement educators is significantly smaller than it usually is, ”added Thiel.

Third, while some substitute teachers before the pandemic had recently completed their teaching programs, last year those programs probably did not see the same number of people entering teaching, Thiel said, thereby reducing the number of replacements who would generally be even more available. .

And this comes as more and more teachers now have to call the sick. Some, for symptoms that, before Covid-19, they could usually go to work with, such as a cough or a runny nose. Others, to care for their own children, who may have been exposed to the virus or need to be quarantined.

“These factors have increased the number of absences but at the same time we have fewer replacements to fill these absences,” said Thiel.

Oregon Changes Supply Teacher Licensing Rules To Address ‘Extraordinary Shortage’

In their statement, Rosilez and Bare called the new temporary rule a “short-term solution” that will allow districts to continue operating “in the face of unprecedented staff shortages as we tackle the lingering problem of staff shortages. teachers across the state and country “.

“The Commission will further examine this temporary rule and comments from school districts at its November meeting,” their statement added.

Thiel also pointed out that the rule is only a short-term solution, and that much bigger system-level changes are needed to support schools and their staff.

“These aren’t just substitutes that we don’t have enough of. They are teachers, administrators and guards, bus drivers and teaching assistants, nutrition workers and paraprofessionals,” said Thiel. “Every kind of job we have in our schools, we’re running out.”