Pandemic leaves several local schools scrambling for help

It’s not uncommon for Fremont County School Districts (FCSD) to have a shortage of substitute teachers in any given school year. However, most local schools with in-person instruction are currently experiencing an increased need this year due to COVID – making an already small pool of subs even smaller.

So much so, a few districts recently started offering incentives to become a sub or even full-time employees. A handful of incentives for the various positions include increased pay rate, offsetting application fees, and bonuses just to name a few.

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Districts spent several weeks during the summer working on their “Smart Start” plans for a fall re-opening. In order to meet the requirements set by the State in their plans, most had to hire additional staff. Some are still having difficulty filling those positions.

“Our need for classified staff substitutes has increased because of the increased cleaning/lunch protocols and disinfecting schedules related to COVID,” shared FCSD #2 Superintendent Marty Gale. “We use a substitute in our custodial positions almost daily to keep up with the extra duties related to COVID and have had an unfilled position for additional full time custodial work for over two months.”

The State of Wyoming recently updated its quarantine procedures easing some of the burdens on local schools. The update excludes close contacts if both parties have been masked.

“Our recent cases have resulted in very limited to no associated quarantine cases due to this change in protocol,” explained FCSD #25 Superintendent JoAnne Andre-Flanagan. “However, we are still asking staff and students to stay home if they are symptomatic and to reach out to their health care provider for guidance. This has increased our need for substitutes and the pool is not very large to begin with.”

FCSD #1 is also seeing this increased need for staff and have discussed ways to increase the sub pool, according to Superintendent Dave Barker. They haven’t made any official decisions or plans yet.

This increased need in some of Fremont County’s larger communities has impacted schools in the smaller towns.

“We’re a little out of the way for folks who live in Riverton or Lander,” said FCSD #6 Superintendent Troy Zickefoose. “So, as their demand has gone up it affects ours as well.”

“COVID has been an issue in the sense that many people do not want to enter public areas at this time,” he continued. “Coupled with when a school has a staff member quarantined it’s not like they missed school for a day with a cold, they’re out for 14 days, which drastically increases the demand.”

FCSD #24 is one of the few with in-person instruction not experiencing the high demand for subs at the moment.

“There are occasions when we have a position that goes unfilled in the secondary school; however, for the most part, we are in good shape if things stay status quo,” noted FCSD #24 Administrative & Human Resources Assistant Nicole Stone. “We also have a good majority of our paras with sub permits so we can utilize them in an emergency situation.”

Substitute permits are good for five years, and the Professional Teaching Standards Board (PTSB) has issued an emergency authorization application in light of the pandemic. You can learn more about becoming a substitute by clicking here.

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It’s not uncommon for Fremont County School Districts (FCSD) to have a shortage of substitute teachers in any given school year. However, most local schools with in-person instruction are currently experiencing an increased need this year due to COVID – making an already small pool of subs even smaller.

So much so, a few districts recently started offering incentives to become a sub or even full-time employees. A handful of incentives for the various positions include increased pay rate, offsetting application fees, and bonuses just to name a few.

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Districts spent several weeks during the summer working on their “Smart Start” plans for a fall re-opening. In order to meet the requirements set by the State in their plans, most had to hire additional staff. Some are still having difficulty filling those positions.

“Our need for classified staff substitutes has increased because of the increased cleaning/lunch protocols and disinfecting schedules related to COVID,” shared FCSD #2 Superintendent Marty Gale. “We use a substitute in our custodial positions almost daily to keep up with the extra duties related to COVID and have had an unfilled position for additional full time custodial work for over two months.”

The State of Wyoming recently updated its quarantine procedures easing some of the burdens on local schools. The update excludes close contacts if both parties have been masked.

“Our recent cases have resulted in very limited to no associated quarantine cases due to this change in protocol,” explained FCSD #25 Superintendent JoAnne Andre-Flanagan. “However, we are still asking staff and students to stay home if they are symptomatic and to reach out to their health care provider for guidance. This has increased our need for substitutes and the pool is not very large to begin with.”

FCSD #1 is also seeing this increased need for staff and have discussed ways to increase the sub pool, according to Superintendent Dave Barker. They haven’t made any official decisions or plans yet.

This increased need in some of Fremont County’s larger communities has impacted schools in the smaller towns.

“We’re a little out of the way for folks who live in Riverton or Lander,” said FCSD #6 Superintendent Troy Zickefoose. “So, as their demand has gone up it affects ours as well.”

“COVID has been an issue in the sense that many people do not want to enter public areas at this time,” he continued. “Coupled with when a school has a staff member quarantined it’s not like they missed school for a day with a cold, they’re out for 14 days, which drastically increases the demand.”

FCSD #24 is one of the few with in-person instruction not experiencing the high demand for subs at the moment.

“There are occasions when we have a position that goes unfilled in the secondary school; however, for the most part, we are in good shape if things stay status quo,” noted FCSD #24 Administrative & Human Resources Assistant Nicole Stone. “We also have a good majority of our paras with sub permits so we can utilize them in an emergency situation.”

Substitute permits are good for five years, and the Professional Teaching Standards Board (PTSB) has issued an emergency authorization application in light of the pandemic. You can learn more about becoming a substitute by clicking here.

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