LMS struggles to find coverage due to Sub Shortage

Shaun Howard is one of Longfellows regular substitute teachers.

Kaitlyn F.

Shaun Howard is one of Longfellow’s regular substitute teachers.

All year, Longfellow has been scrambling to find coverage when teachers are absent.  The age-old system of hiring substitute teachers to fill absences has run into a snag with a shortage of substitutes to fill the openings.  

“I’m always concerned that I’m not going to have somebody to cover my class,” acknowledged history teacher Stephanie Haley.  

Though there is no way to know for sure why there are no longer enough subs, Haley thinks it may have something to do with pay, and also blames covid. Substitute coordinator Ann Vari agrees. 

“I think if the substitutes got paid better, that would help,” Vari suggested.“Sometimes, during the pandemic, substitutes just didn’t want to come into the building because I think they thought it was dangerous,” she added. 

Since the pandemic, the number of substitutes in FCPS buildings has dropped dramatically. Typically there are a few subs in the building regularly, but often not enough to fill all of the teachers’ absences.

 “I do get emails almost every day from the front office staff,” Haley explained.  When Ms. Vari doesn’t have enough subs, she has to ask for volunteers to cover.  It’s like a big jigsaw puzzle.

And though teachers are usually willing to step in, it means they can’t use their planning period for its intended purpose, to prepare for the next day’s classes or grade student work.

“It’s obviously a bummer,” said Haley about the shortage.

The shortage has a real impact on the lives of teachers and students, even though Longfellow’s faculty does their best to make up the difference in-house.