ESTACADA, Ore. — In December of 2019 there were more than 8,000 substitute teachers in Oregon. Now that number is just under 5,000.
In response, the state Teacher Standards and Practices Commission filed a temporary order to establish emergency substitute teacher licenses.
Under this order, the only requirements are for candidates to be 18 years of age and older and undergo a background check.
That's getting a mixed response from parents.
"I don’t think we ever want to see a decrease in the education requirements for substitutes, but it is understandable considering we’re facing shortages across the board in the education system. We’re seeing school bus driver shortages; now we’re having substitute shortages," said MacKensey Pulliam with the Oregon Moms Union. Pulliam's husband, Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam, is running for governor.
Districts will be expected to pay for these emergency licenses, certify specific administrators to support these candidates, and supervise the performance of these substitutes.
The communications director with the Estacada School District said there will still be standards.
“We will still have safe, trustworthy adults in the schools. They still have to go through a background check. We also have really rigorous check-ins. We have people walking past your child’s classroom all day long," Maggie Kelly said.
Some parents voiced concerns around how long these substitutes may be in the classroom, especially with vaccine mandates looming.
Anthony Rosilez, the executive director with the commission, said they'll cap assignments at 10 days.
"You can only work in the district that sponsored you and we believe that will make sure that there is some accountability as that district is solely responsible for that sub and then they know who that substitute is," Rosilez said.
Rosilez said the emergency licenses will only be in effect for the rest of the school year or six months, whichever is later. The commission plans to revisit this system in January to see if the shortage has improved.