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'Severe shortage' of substitute teachers prompts DESE to seek emergency change to certification

Posted at 9:24 AM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 10:24:55-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A “severe shortage” of substitute teachers in Missouri is prompting Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education leaders to accelerate an emergency amendment in the training required to be a certified substitute teacher.

Under the proposed amendment, substitute teachers would be certified after completing 20 hours of a DESE-approved online course. Under existing rules, substitute teachers are required to complete 60 semester hours of college-level credit from an accredited academic degree-granting institution.

In a release Tuesday morning, DESE officials say they are seeking the emergency amendment to refill the ranks of substitute teachers, which the state agency says has been made worse by COVID-19 and the most recent Delta variant.

The proposal requires approval from the Missouri Secretary of State’s office and the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

The amendment was originally set to take effect on Dec. 31, 2021, but DESE is seeking for the amendment to take effect in early November.

“The sooner this new path to certification can be made available to potential substitute teachers, the better,” DESE Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven said in the release. “When schools cannot find substitute teachers, other full-time classroom teachers often have to fill in and give up valuable, much-needed time to prepare instructional materials, grade student work, and collaborate with colleagues — forcing those teachers to complete these tasks in their personal time.”