ETHS administration talks substitute teacher shortage

For the current 2021-2022 school year, ETHS employs 38 substitute teachers, all of whom fill both long and short-term positions. However, due to the high demand for substitute teachers, ETHS is continually reviewing applications to hire more substitute personnel. 

“We have a website that teacher or potential substitute teacher candidates apply to. We also hire student teachers after they’re finished doing their student teaching. And we also have referrals, so some of the current substitutes will refer other folks to us as well,” substitute coordinator Stephanie Gladden explained. 

Throughout the school year, a significantly high number of teachers have been absent, a number exacerbated by current COVID-19 protocols that staff must follow if they are sick or have been exposed. According to Evanston Now, the reason for ETHS’ shift to a virtual learning day on Nov. 12 was due to 70 certified staff taking days off, up 20 people from the average. 

“We are doing more outreach, which is why we offered the referral program. So we are looking at that,” Gladden commented about hiring more substitutes to keep up with the high demand. “I’m also constantly reviewing applications that are submitted online as well.”

In addition to hiring more substitutes, teachers from other classes within different departments are substituting for classes in some cases. Regardless of whether the substitute is a teacher in the department or hired as a substitute teacher, students have felt the impacts of their absent teachers.

“There have been a lot more subs this year than any other year. Instead of learning from an in-person teacher, I am learning from online videos and busy work with substitute teachers,” junior Mundo Sandoval said. 

The demand for substitute teachers is not new; however, the role of substitutes has changed throughout the COVID-19 era. During remote learning, there was not as high of a need for substitute teachers because of the structure of online learning.

“We didn’t use a lot of substitute teachers [during remote learning],” Gladden explained. “Now that we’re back in the classroom, it’s the same as the pre-pandemic [times] where you always need a sub within the classroom.”

Since ETHS has returned to full in-person learning,—meaning that there must be a substitute in the classroom if a teacher is absent—the school has faced challenges meeting the need and demand for substitutes; however, they are continuing to review applications and work with department chairs to ensure that teachers are able to be absent and know that their classes are covered. 

“It’s a challenge,” Gladden remarked. “But we just work through it, and we just do the best that we can.”