Pasco School District looking to hire emergency substitute teachers

The district is holding informational sessions on Zoom for interested and qualified individuals

PASCO, Wash. – As more of the regions’ teachers are out with COVID-19, have been exposed to the virus or must stay home with a sick child, the Pasco School District is looking for more substitute teachers.

“Students do best when they’re at school so this is one of our attempts to keep them at school with caring adults,” Stacie Hatch with PSD said they’re doing everything to prevent returning to remote learning.

“So that puts us in a place where we need to find substitutes who can fill in so our students can have teachers available who can teach them,” Anna Tensmeyer, the Director of Public Affairs added.

Tensmeyer and Hatch said the problem is, there aren’t enough subs to go around.

“We’ve even got to the point where there are district office administrators who are going out to schools to help as well. So, it’s putting everybody from principles to vice principles in the classroom, so what we’re trying to do is a recruitment so we can get people emergency
certified substitutes so they can come on board with us an help with this situation,” Hatch explained.

RELATED: Staffing shortages cause some Yakima schools to resume remote learning

Both employees said even teachers have had to step in to help during their planning time, which means they must plan for their own class well into the evening, and work overtime. Hatch said this causes a strain on teachers who are already stretched thin.

To combat this, the Pasco School District is holding two Zoom information sessions for people who’d like to get emergency certifications.

“What we’re trying to do is recruit the people who maybe just have one day a week available,” Hatch said.

Emergency Substitute Certifications get processed by the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. KAPP KVEW reached out to see how they’re handling an influx of applications. According to their Communications Director Katy Payne:

  • “We currently have 7 emergency substitute certifications for individuals who already have a teaching certification. Our turnaround time for those is averaging about 4 weeks.
  • We currently have 352 emergency substitute certifications awaiting approval, and our turnaround time for those is averaging 2 weeks.
  • Finally, we currently have 350 out-of-state emergency substitute certifications awaiting approval. Those take a bit more time because we have to track down information.

 Before the school year started in August and September, we prioritized emergency certification requests based on which district they would be supporting and the dates those districts would be returning to school. Now, we are working through requests as quickly as possible and prioritizing the ones we hear directly from a school district saying they need urgent assistance. With many, we are finding that the district submits the paperwork, but the person pursuing the emergency certification hasn’t paid for it yet – and the process doesn’t begin until it’s paid for.”

Hatch said they’re working with them to ease or prevent backlogs of applications.

“They’re working as fast as they can as well, so partnering with them to get the certificates issued,” she added.

Hatch and Tensmeyer said they also desperately need paraeducators to assist teachers. They’re holding a job fair on Wednesday to hire on the spot.

“Trying to reach out to those people that have a special interest in working with our most needy population that can be very rewarding,” she said.

Shellie said they just hope to find enough substitutes to prevent a return to at-home learning.

“School for many of our students is their safe haven and they’re counting on us to be there and just knowing there’s adults that care and I think substituting is a great way to show that and to be present,” she said.

KAPP KVEW did ask if they knew of teacher shortages due to vaccine mandates within the Pasco district, Hatch said they did not have that information at this time. She said subs need to either be vaccinated or have an exemption that they can submit.

Additionally, substitutes can have a preference for which school they work in and what days of the week they’re available.

The Kennewick School District is also looking for substitute teachers, you can get more information here.