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Substitute teacher shortage hits Malheur County schools

LaRena Lewis teaches as a substitute at Aiken Elementary School in Ontario. (Submitted photo)

VALE – The Malheur Education Service District’s list of available substitute teachers for local schools has shrunk by about half since the beginning of the pandemic, and districts are feeling the pinch. 

“We’re seeing in some districts that superintendents are subbing in classrooms just because they can’t get anyone else,” said Kristia Simmons, assistant business manager and human resources for the service district. 

Prior to the pandemic, up to 140 substitute teachers were on call to help local schools. The majority were retirees from the profession.

But with older people in a higher risk category for Covid, many of those retirees have since left substitute teaching, Simmons said.

Now, there are only 61 substitute teachers . . .