Illinois Expands Its Pool Of Applicants For Substitute Teaching Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

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By WBBM Newsradio 780 AM & 105.9 FM

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Coronavirus is likely to make Illinois’ shortage of substitute teachers even worse this school year.  

As school districts navigate whether to return to in-person learning, there’s a push to get more substitute teachers ready in case full-timers retire or must quarantine.  

The Illinois State Board of Education is encouraging districts to hire additional subs to mitigate a potential increase in teacher absences as they debate remote or in-person learning.

A spokesman for the board said they’ve seen a decline in sub licenses awarded in the last two years, so the state is expanding their pool of applicants.

Suzy Dees, Director of Professional Learning at the West Cook Regional Office of Education, trains them. 

"You can do this now, if you have 60 credit hours or an associate's degree," Dees said. "but the other caveat is, you have to take the training."

The training, like so many things these days, is online.

In southern Cook County, Regional Superintendent Vanessa Kinder said it is a half day session that they have added new curriculum to regarding the coronavirus.

"What do you do with a student that doesn't wear their mask? How are you going to assist the school in monitoring student sickness if they are in the classroom?" Kinder said.

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Dees said some of their districts are too busy with return to school plans to know how many subs they’ll need.

"They are just not ready to go there yet. They have so much planning that they are trying to do to get everything situated that this is something that they are just kind of putting off for now," Dees said. 

West Cook's next Zoom training session for short-term substitutes is Wednesday.