WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The need for substitute teachers in Palm Beach County schools remains critical, so the district is launching a new effort to recruit candidates.
The district will host its first "Substitute Teacher Recruitment Coffee Chat" at 3 p.m. Tuesday The virtual event will provide information and allow people to ask questions about becoming a sub. More than 50 people are already registered for the event. You need to sign up ahead of time to participate.
Gail Williams, director of administrative and non-instructional staffing for the district, said there are about 2,900 subs in their pool but only about 1/3 of them are currently responding and willing to work. She said many are afraid to be in the classroom because of COVID-19 concerns.
"We have a low rate of contractions of students to adults," Williams said. "So that's something, and all of our schools are following the CDC guidelines, social distancing, washing hands, wearing masks, the students are great with that."
She is also hopeful with the news that the COVID-19 vaccine is being expanded to include educators 50 years old and older, as many subs said they would be willing to come back if they were vaccinated.
"Many of them said they were not ready to return to brick and mortar yet, once we have a vaccine they would come back so in the meantime we still need to get people who are interested so we can increase that pool," she said.
While the situation with subs has improved since the beginning of the school year, the fill rate is still down from 80% at this time last year to 60% now.
With that in mind, the district is partnering with local colleges and universities like Florida Atlantic University, Lynn and Palm Beach State to recruit their education students into the substitute pool.
"Many of them are education majors so this will give them a chance to be in the schools, to explore the schools, get to know the principals, get to know the schools and ultimately an opportunity for them to become an actual teacher," Williams said.
In order to qualify to be a substitute teacher, you must have 30 hours of college credit and complete a training course. That training can be waived based on experience.
Becoming a sub also allows you the flexibility to choose what schools you prefer to work in.
Williams said there are still a lot of teachers out on sick or personal leave days.
"It is extremely stressful for our principals because they are wanting to get teachers in the classroom for the students, so that's why when teachers are out, our subs are very important so it can be stressful," Williams said. "It's not that we don't have subs, it's just that we have a difficult time with the ones we do have actively working right now. So when we are hiring new people, they are willing to work, so we're trying to fill the pool that way."
To learn more, click here.
To register for the recruitment event, click here.
The Martin County School District also said it is actively seeking substitute teachers and have found it more difficult than usual to fill these positions as a result of the pandemic. Those interested in employment are encouraged to visit the website to begin the application process.