Substitute teacher shortage affects many schools all over

Teachers all over are retiring early, or just leaving mid year, leaving substitutes to take over their classes. Finding substitutes to do the job, though, isn’t that easy.


More stories from Rylee Pearlman



Students in different classes have to sit in a room together since there are limited subs.

   Being a teacher isn’t an easy job, and, sadly, they aren’t always recognized for all that they do. Teachers have to work almost all year-round, with endless amounts of grading, meetings, and non-stop lesson plans. 

     Although, just as students and other people working full time jobs, teachers have other commitments that they need to attend to during school days. When teachers take days off, the schools supply a substitute teacher for the day. This is the day that kids all over look forward to, a substitute. A day to do mindless worksheets, and have loads of free time, it’s almost like a day off for the students as well. But, during the pandemic at Eastern Regional High School, things are a bit different. 

     For my short period of time being at Eastern, I have met some of the most knowledgeable teachers who have taught me things I never thought I would be learning. As well as being amazing teachers, they were open to describing the struggles of teaching in the pandemic and how they have fallen out of love with teaching. However, they aren’t the only ones. 

     Teachers all over are retiring early, or just leaving mid year, leaving substitutes to take over their classes. Finding substitutes to do the job, though, isn’t that easy. For example, in Texas, schools are calling in moms to cover classes. 

     At Eastern, there aren’t enough teachers to cover all the classes that have absent teachers. Classes get sent to the Performing Arts Center while teachers with free periods or department advisors “watch” over the classes. The teachers that are absent usually assign work to do on Google Classroom that students should do while in the Performing Arts Center. 

     The past few days, I’ve been corresponding with Eastern’s substitute teacher coordinator, Ms. Pasternak, over email, and I asked her a few questions about the shortage. Ms. Pasternak has been Eastern’s substitute coordinator for the past five years and works extremely hard daily to make sure that everything at Eastern runs smoothly. 

     The pandemic has put many people out of jobs and has greatly affected the school systems. When asked how the pandemic affected the amount of substitutes available, Ms. Pasternak replied, “I think the coverage needs we’re experiencing here at Eastern are no different from those in other schools statewide and across the country.  I’m glad that we have substitutes regularly on campus along with our own teachers available to cover classes when needed.” 

     What seems to be the main problem with this “solution” is that the kids don’t want to do the work that’s assigned. When there are so many students seated in one space all at once, it is very easy to get distracted by everyone else in the room. This makes it very hard to be focused enough to do the work your absent teacher has assigned. 

     Recently, New Jersey legislatures adopted a new bill stating that a person with as few as 30 semester-hour credits can substitute for teachers when needed. Still, before they can walk into school on their first day, they need to have someone request for the person’s criminal record. Once they’re in the clear, now it’s time for the substitute-to-be to pay for all their forms. A little over $200 dollars will be spent to have all the proper forms, and their first fingerprinting done. 

     Many different factors potentially push people away from wanting to be a substitute, such as paying for your own fingerprinting, or the decreased pay rates. Despite the challenges the pandemic has caused, Ms. Pasternak continues to work diligently so that students have access to the education they deserve.