JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Many school districts will return to the classroom next week for a new school year, but many schools are facing a shortage of teachers and substitutes.
For years, the state of Missouri has endured a teacher shortage, but state leaders say COVID made the lack of educators more prominent. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is making it easier to become a substitute teacher and spending millions to address the teacher shortage.
“It’s certainly was happening before COVID, it just elevated since COVID,” DESE Commissioner Margie Vandeven said.
To become a substitute teacher in Missouri, now all an applicant need is a computer.
“They still have to go through all the other fingerprints, background checks, and all those other requirements that are necessary, but it just opens up one more avenue to provide substitute teachers in our schools,” Vandeven said.
Last August, the State Board of Education approved a temporary option allowing applications to take 20 hours of online training instead of the 60 college credit hours.
“We had administrators who felt like they were even more prepared than some of the folks they have with 60 credit hours,” Office of Educator Quality Assistant Commissioner Paul Katnik told the board.
Katnik said there were more than 4,000 applicants who took advantage of the online training.
“Pending your vote today, then we will take steps this fall to coincide training kicking up in time for the rule being official,” Katnik said.
The board voted Wednesday to make the rule permanent starting at the end of 2021. The training would be through a service called Frontline.