North County Parents Are Getting Certified To Substitute Teach
The Parent Association of North County San Diego is rallying parents to solve a substitute teacher shortage for the eventual return to in-person learning.
Ginny Merrifield is the group's executive director.
“We can proctor or supervise the classroom while the teacher teaches from home. So the best of both worlds — everybody gets a choice,” Merrifield said.
“The kids can come to class with their peers and be engaged socially and emotionally. The teacher would continue to teach from home and the students would have their laptops and continue to learn from their teacher.”
Parents who want to substitute need to obtain an emergency 30-day substitute teaching permit. That requires a bachelor’s degree and a background check, including fingerprinting.
Even with those requirements, the effort has gained momentum and now has dozens of parents working to fill the teaching gap across North County.
Allison Stratton is a web designer and also a parent at Torrey Pines High School. Her website, sandieguitosubstitutes.com, helps parents and others sign up to substitute teach with a streamlined process that takes just a couple weeks.
“They went from a pool of less than 10 to now about 60. And I have about 40 parents that have contacted me through the website that I built and they are all in process right now,” Stratton said.
While many children have gone back to in-person learning across the country, California public schools have been held back by recent state guidance with stricter reopening and safety policies.
North County parent April Mosebrook started the process to become a substitute teacher. She said there is a way to safely reopen schools and help the social, emotional and academic wellbeing of students.
“We believe that with the advent of the vaccines and now that we've learned ways to safely distance and have kids wear masks and take those safety precautions, we just want them back in school — in a safe and healthy way overall,” Mosebrook said.
The Parent Association noted that some students and families may want to continue distance learning, and their return-to-class model would allow for that option.
Some hope may be on the horizon for a return to the classroom. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently found that schools “might be able to safely open with appropriate mitigation efforts in place” after a study on COVID-19 transmission rates was conducted at 17 Wisconsin schools.
The study also noted that the findings from the report were subject to at least seven limitations, including voluntary teacher responses.
Ultimately, getting students back in classrooms across San Diego County will depend upon the coordinated efforts of the state, county and local districts.