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Pandemic leading to shortage of substitute teachers

Posted at 6:25 PM, Jul 29, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — With an uptick of positive COVID-19 cases in Kentucky, many schools have made the difficult decision to begin the school year online, but they hope to return to the classroom when things are safer.

There are still many challenges that need to be overcome when and if kids return to school. For example, what to do if a teacher tests positive or has to quarantine for a long period of time.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic began, public schools have struggled to find substitute teachers, but Fayette County Superintendent Manny Caulk says they have a plan to combat the shortage.

"Our think-tank task force has anticipated that looking at plans, so we can sort of reduce the negative impact that may have on our instruction and on our students," Caulk said.

The logistics haven't been released though at this time.

Many substitute teachers have already come forward and said the risk is too great and they won't be returning this school year. Rebecca Wright is one of those teachers. She's worked in the Fayette County School District for more than 30 years as a speech pathologist, and as a substitute for the past ten. Her husband is immunocompromised so she couldn't put herself in that position this year.

"This will be what you call a second retirement... you develop those bonds," Wright said. "It’s just really difficult to let those things go."

She isn't alone either. Both Fayette and Franklin County Schools have decided to begin the school year online. Alissa Rose who has worked in Franklin County for the past few years says with her Lupus diagnoses she can't right now, and that's why she's pleased her kids also will be at home.

She does hope she can return at some point though.

"I’m going ahead and doing all the training we have to do online for this year in hopes that there will be a vaccine maybe around January or February and I could sub the end of the year," Rose said. "But I won’t be able to until there is a vaccine."