Michigan schools may use non-teachers as substitutes due to lack of workers after Whitmer signed the bill

Michigan schools will be allowed to use non-teachers as temps in the midst of a shortage of workers who have been exacerbated by the proliferation of the omicron COVID-19 variant.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Monday that she has signed legislation to address a shortage of teachers in the state by allowing staff as secretaries and paraprofessionals to work as temps until the end of the school year.

Michigan typically requires substitute teachers without a teaching certificate to have an associate’s degree or 60 semester hours of college credit, with some exceptions for employees who teach career and technical education classes, according to FOX2.

However, this bill is said to give staff, such as chefs, bus drivers and office workers, the opportunity to fill in as substitute teachers if they have a high school diploma or equivalent.

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A child walks with his mother to the observation area after receiving a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at Hazel Park High School in Hazel Park, Michigan, on November 8, 2021. (Emily Elconin / Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

“The pandemic has been challenging for our children, teachers and parents, and our educators have gone to great lengths to ensure that Michigan’s children have a bright future,” Whitmer said in Press release. “Allowing schools to hire school staff that students know as substitute teachers will help keep school doors open and students learning in the classroom for the rest of the school year.”

The governor assured that she is committed to working with the Legislative Assembly to create ways to address staff shortages in the long run.

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Although the bill was sponsored by Republican state Rep. Brad Paquette and signed by a Democratic governor, it has not gone well for everyone.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer follows as President Biden visits a Pfizer plant producing the COVID-19 vaccine in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on February 19, 2021. (REUTERS / Tom Brenner / Reuters photos)

The Michigan Education Association has been critical of the bill. Spokesman Thomas Morgan criticized the legislation, saying that educators need increased pay and to be treated “as the professionals they are.” Everything else, he said, would be “at best a stumbling block solution to a massive problem.”

The recent shortage of school staff and cancellations have created anxiety among many parents.

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Students arrive at a high school during the first day of classes in Novi, Michigan, September 7, 2021. (Emily Elconin / Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

And October report from the EdWeek Research Center found that 45% of school administrators consider staff shortages to be “severe” or “very serious.”

Fox News’ Emma Colton and Alexandria Hoff contributed to this report.

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