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CLEVELAND (WJW) — With the new school year approaching, some administrators are becoming concerned about a possible shortage of substitute teachers.

“What can cause a closure is perhaps it’s not racing through the student body, but it is through the teaching staff and we are unable to fill our teaching positions with substitutes or qualified teachers,” said Steve Thompson, Superintendent of Willoughby City Schools.

Thompson says many of the districts substitutes are retired teachers who may choose not to accept any risk, thus he anticipates a smaller pool of substitutes.

That smaller pool may come at a time when substitutes are needed more than ever.

“We also expect to see call offs rise for teachers across the whole state probably the entire country, meaning the substitute teachers  who are available, who might go to Mentor one day,  Willoughby-Eastlake the next or Kirtland the next are going to be at a premium. They are going to be harder to find and there’s gong to be less of them available,” he explained.

Thompson says he and other school superintendents are doing everything they can to maintain a safe environment inside the school buildings. That includes following the advice of local health officials and experts at the CDC.

On Thursday, the CDC published several articles strongly advocating for the return of students to classrooms for multiple reasons.

Among them is that students themselves are less vulnerable to impact from the virus and from studying other countries where school is back in session, statistically a low risk for spreading it to one another or to adults.

In a publication published to advise local school administrators, the CDC suggests that only a substantial uncontrolled outbreak of the virus should be consideration for closing schools.

Teachers in several local school districts, including Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights-University Heights,  however, are calling for their school districts to begin the year entirely online concerned about the impact of the virus on adults working in the schools.

And Thompson, as well as other administrators, know that any outbreak among students or teachers poses a potential problem for keeping schools open.

“That would present two challenges contact tracing and trying to figure out what to do with that building, that class that group of students all the way to potentially closing that building and then again the shortage of personnel,” he said.

“We are trying to hire what  we are calling building subs, permanent building subs so that we have personnel who are reporting to a specific building without being called. They are simply just contracted to be a building sub because we anticipate the ability to acquire subs is going to be incredibly challenging,” said Thompson.

Many districts that plan to reopen have taken into consideration the concerns of their teachers and say their plans include doing the very best they can to follow every required and recommended guideline and prepare for every possible obstacle.


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