Klein ISD is pushing to find more substitute teachers as the number of qualified individuals dwindles amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Chris Ruggerio, director of staffing and employee relations for KISD, said in an email that the district typically relies on a pool of retired educators, individuals from universities or higher education programs, or community members for substitutes.

Ruggerio said the pandemic makes it difficult to keep fill rates high, referring to the percentage of teacher absences filled by substitutes. KISD declined to answer how many substitutes it needs, saying it varies.

“We recognize that a number of our substitutes are retired and many have been cautious about returning to campuses due to the pandemic,” he said. “We hope that as COVID[-19] cases begin to decline and with the availability of the vaccines, we will see them return to our campuses.”

Comparatively, Cy-Fair ISD revealed at a March 8 board meeting the number of daily teacher absences increased by almost 300 from

January 2020 to January 2021, but substitutes working each day decreased by 50. Trustees also considered increasing pay and bonuses for substitutes but did not vote on it at the meeting.

Ruggerio said KISD is still focused on recruiting student teachers and community members. In the meantime, KISD has found creative solutions to address teacher absenteeism: The district combines classes or has instructional specialists and staff cover classes, he said.

“Our goal is to ensure that every student has a qualified staff member in their classroom to support their learning each day,” he said.

Danica Lloyd contributed to this report.