Local schools scrambling for substitute teachers as COVID-19 cases rise among staff

MEAD, Wash. — Students in Mead are learning in the classroom, but when teachers can’t be there, the school says it’s having a hard time finding substitute replacements. 

Many of those subs are retired teachers and considered to be in the high risk category for COVID-19. It’s a risk some might not be willing to take. 

Jim Stinson feels differently. 

At 74 years old, Stinson also has Type one Diabetes. Even though he’s in the high risk group, he says he feels perfectly safe in the schools because of all the safety measures in place. 

“I can understand why people worry,” said Stinson. 

He spent 40 years as a coach and teacher. Four years ago, he got out of retirement and started filling in as a sub. It’s something he’s still doing even during the pandemic. In the last six weeks, Stinson has taught in five different school districts. 

“The safety in every school I’ve been in is unbelievable,” said Stinson. “You can’t get in the door until they take your temperature and wipe your hands off.” 

“Kids are definitely six feet apart,” he added. “Every one of them has a mask.” 

Stinson, however, hasn’t seen any of the subs he used to work with. 

“I can’t think of anybody my age that’s been going to the schools that I go to,” said Stinson. 

Subs like him are in high demand. 

The Mead School District is looking to hire several emergency substitute teachers. They do not need to have a state teaching certificate. 

The only thing you need to qualify is a bachelor’s degree in art or science and pass a criminal background check. Of course, experience working with children is preferred. 

The Mead School District is paying subs $130 to fill in for a full school day and $65 for a half day. 

Substitute teachers will play an important role as more schools open up, especially if teachers need to quarantine.

READ: COVID-19 cases causing ‘critical’ staff shortages at one Coeur d’Alene school, prompting a temporary shift to remote learning 

READ: Coeur d’Alene middle schoolers to only attend class twice a week as coronavirus cases rise within the district