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Dorchester District 2 looks to fill gaps left by fewer substitutes teachers working

Updated: Dec. 23, 2020 at 6:24 PM EST
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SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - District officials with Dorchester District 2 say they are struggling with the number of substitute teachers available to work.

Out of 565 substitutes in the district’s sub pool, 392 of them have not worked at all between August and December.

“Our department has reached out to them and many are saying they’re not ready to come into the buildings, not ready to come work, “Elena Furnari, DD2′s director of personnel for secondary schools, said. “A sub job is a job you choose when to work, when not to work so they’re just choosing not to right now.”

The substitutes that are working, roughly 30 percent of the total pool, have been filling positions in classrooms. Teachers have also been asked to cover classes, as well as other school employees.

“We hope as we transition back to face to face as disease activity lowers that we will bring more people including subs into the building,” Furnari said. “We have been able again with the help of individual schools to cover existing openings but we’re ready to see what happens.”

The school district conducts workshops for people interested in becoming a substitute teacher for the district and provides incentives.

From September to December of 2020, the district had 33 substitutes trained, a large drop from the 133 substitutes who were trained last year.

Issues with scheduling also play a factor in the number of substitutes available.

Mary Rita Watson, a DD2 teacher, says a lot of substitutes are parents so if the schedules don’t work for them, they can’t be there the full day to cover a classroom.

If a substitute isn’t available, many teachers are using a planning period to cover classrooms.

“I think on the part of the children it’s good , there is always someone to cover for them. But as a teacher it’s not as good because they are not getting their planning time and so that’s critical,” Watson said.

Watson says there are different issues presented with the lack of substitutes in elementary, middle, and high schools.

If a class is conducted virtually, there will not be a substitute available. Instead, teachers can plan assignments out ahead for students if they know they will be out, design a lesson plan, or put an emergency plan in place for students.

For more information on DD2′s substitute employment opportunities, click here.

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