Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

Parents who just months ago were publicly questioned about their role in teaching are now being asked to go into classrooms to combat staff shortages.

“I knew that when COVID hit, they started making some exceptions for subs, and I thought, ‘Oh god. I want to do it. I just want to try and see if I like it,'” Kristin Kuhlman said, a California mother of two who currently serves as a long-term substitute teacher in Encinitas, California.

Kuhlman took her degree in business, but said she comes from a family of educators, so when it became clear that COVID-19 was leading to a shortage of teachers and substitutes, she volunteered to fill out.

Elementary school students wearing masks in the classroom.

Elementary school students wearing masks in the classroom.
(iStock)

“I think it’s a huge solution,” she said, “it’s really a gift you give these kids, especially in elementary school. They have to go to school. I can see my class fighting. I mean, I came in, and I was surprised at some things they should have been able to do that they could not. “

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School districts and elected leaders across the country are urging other parents across the country to follow suit in an effort to keep schools open. Parents in the Lake Washington School District of Washington State have already listened to the call. The Hays Consolidated School District in Texas also reached out to parents in January through a post on social media asking them to log on as guest teachers.

Masked students wait to go to their classroom on the first day of class at Stanford Elementary School in Garden Grove, CA on Monday, August 16, 2021.

Masked students wait to go to their classroom on the first day of class at Stanford Elementary School in Garden Grove, CA on Monday, August 16, 2021.
(Photo by Paul Bersebach / MediaNews Group / Orange County Register via Getty Images)

Parents who are interested in alleviating teacher stress, or those who are simply focused on keeping their child’s school open and functioning, have been able to take on teacher roles thanks to relaxed requirements implemented by individual states.

Gov. Gavin Newsome removes his face mask before giving an update during a visit to Pittsburg, California.

Gov. Gavin Newsome removes his face mask before giving an update during a visit to Pittsburg, California.
(AP Photo / Rich Pedroncelli, Pool, File)

On Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a temporary ordinance allowing school districts to issue 30-day relief certificates. This provides a process that is more accelerated than what Kuhlman completed before she took on her new role. A California claimant is no longer required to obtain a traditional credential, but must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and must pass a criminal background check.

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Washington, Texas and Pennsylvania are among the many states that have implemented similar emergency information. In Pennsylvania, persons 25 years of age or older are eligible to serve in the classroom if they have at least 60 credits or 3 years of paraprofessional experience. Texas will accept visiting teachers who have a minimum of 30 credits or received an honorable military discharge from full-time active service.

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To address a nagging shortage of teaching staff, the Kansas Department of Education took easing of restrictions one step further by approving an emergency order this week that removes the requirement for university credits. Under the policy set to expire in June, high school students over the age of 18 are eligible to work as substitute teachers as long as they can pass a background check.

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