Northland Schools Dealing with Substitute Teacher Shortage

With around only 70% of substitute jobs filled right now for the Hermantown School District, even the high school principal has had to jump in and teach.

DULUTH, Minn. – COVID-19 is creating an unprecedented year for Northland schools to make sure teachers can educate students safely.

Now, schools are dealing with a serious shortage of substitute teachers.

“We’re making it work, it’s not easy but we’re making it work,” says Hermantown Superintendent Wayne Whitwam.

At Hermantown School District teachers are doing all they can to make sure classes go on as normal as possible during COVID.

Teachers who are quarantining and feel well enough to teach are doing so from home.

It still requires a substitute teacher to be in the classroom with the kids.

With around only 70% of substitute jobs filled right now for the district, even the high school principal has had to jump in and teach.

“I give the staff a lot of credit for showing up and doing what they believe is best for kids each and everyday ad it’s not easy, staff are tired, it’s tough. And when you’re covering for each other it takes a lot we are asking a lot of our staff each year,” says Whitwam.

Meanwhile, at the Superior School District, Superintendent Amy Starzecki says she hasn’t faced a high number of teachers out sick or quarantining just yet, but the concern is real.

Teachers are also prepared to step in for other teachers.

“All the plans we put in place to address subs we did that before school started so we don’t find ourselves on a Monday morning trying to figure out what to do. So I feel really proud of our staff and our district trying to be proactive and having strong plans in place,” says Starzecki.

Part of those plans for Superior and Hermantown is increasing the substitute teacher’s daily pay to hopefully attract more applicants during such an uncertain time.

Duluth is the same as last year at $125 per day.

Hermantown upped the pay from $105 to now $125 per day.

Superior bumped theirs up from $125 to now $150 per day for short-term subs.

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