Hays CISD asking parents to be substitute teachers amid COVID-19 surge and teacher shortage

Hays CISD headquarters are located at 21003 I-35, Kyle. (Zara Flores/Community Impact Newspaper)
Hays CISD headquarters are located at 21003 I-35, Kyle. (Zara Flores/Community Impact Newspaper)

Hays CISD headquarters are located at 21003 I-35, Kyle. (Zara Flores/Community Impact Newspaper)

In a social media post and emails sent to parents Jan. 6, Hays CISD announced that it is hiring certified and noncertified guest teachers to substitute as COVID-19 cases leave the district in dire need, and the district asked parents to consider applying.

During a normal year, the district has a pool of approximately 500 substitutes. However, that has dwindled to anywhere from 100-300, according to the district's Chief Communication Officer Tim Savoy.

After the winter break, the ordinary daily demand for a substitute teacher is around 180 requests, Savoy said, but it has nearly reached 300 requests in 2022.

"With the sub shortage, it's all hands on deck. Everyone who can sub in a classroom, we're bringing them in," Savoy said.

Those interested must pass a background check, attend an orientation and have attended 30 hours of college from a community college or university if they do not have a teaching certificate.

However, if recommended to be a substitute teacher by the principal of a school, the 30 hours of college requirement is waived.

Substitutes will most likely be left instructions or plans from the teacher they are subbing for.

Savoy said that it is not ideal to have a substitute that does not have the college hours, but the alternative would be to close classrooms or campuses which would take an educational, emotional and social toll on students.

Prior to the new year, if 10% or more of a classroom or campus' population had positive cases, it had to close, though that is no longer an option, Savoy said. If a classroom or campus passes the 10% threshold, the district can only strongly recommend a quarantine for those with probable contact.

Despite the rise in cases upon the return from winter break, he said this is a temporary measure to ensure the schools stay open for students.

"I know that there’s a lot of attention on the dire need for substitutes, and it’s true. But I don’t want anybody who works for our district to feel bad if they’re at home because they have tested positive, have symptoms or are quarantining for close contact," Savoy said. "They are also doing their part by staying home. We want people to stay home. The reason we have a high number of absences of employees is because people are doing the right thing and quarantining if they’ve been exposed or tested positive."
By Zara Flores
Zara joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in August 2021. Prior to CI, she interned at Picket Fence Media in Southern California and graduated from Cal State Fullerton where she was assistant news editor for the Daily Titan and copy editor for Tusk Magazine. Zara covers education, business, government and more for Buda, Kyle and San Marcos.